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Joel Quenneville ‘close’ to becoming Panthers’ next coach — report

Joel Quenneville could be trading brutal Chicago winters for sunny Florida. | Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

The Panthers and Joel Quenneville are “close” to an agreement that would make him the franchise’s next head coach, reports Sportsnet. The deal isn’t done yet but it would reunite Quenneville with former Blackhawks general manager Dale Tallon, who currently fills the same role in Florida.

The team has asked the Blackhawks for official permission to discuss the job with Quenneville, per The Athletic. He signed a three-year extension with the Hawks in 2016 that was set to expire after the 2019-20 season.

The Panthers fired their last head coach, Bob Boughner, on Sunday after missing the playoffs for the second consecutive season. After the news came out, it was reported that the team wanted a new leader who sounded an awful lot like Quenneville:

Quenneville has been a popular name for NHL coaching vacancies since he was fired by the Blackhawks in November. It should come as no surprise that a three-time Stanley Cup winner and one of the most respected people in the sport would garner serious interest from other teams.

The Panthers could present Quenneville with an opportunity to do what he did in Chicago: take a talented, up-and-coming group to the next level and compete for Stanley Cups. It also likely helps Florida’s case that their hockey operations is ran by Tallon, who promoted Quenneville to be the Blackhawks’ head coach back in 2008. They’ve worked together before, although not for years after the Hawks replaced Tallon with Stan Bowman.

The addition of Quenneville would quickly make the Panthers one of the most intriguing teams in the NHL entering the offseason. They already boast a strong core with Aleksander Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau and Vincent Trocheck leading the way up front.

Reports have also played them up as a potential suitor for top free agents such as Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovski this summer. Landing Quenneville would likely make Florida an even more enticing option for those players.