SUNRISE, Fla. — “What’s going on?” Andrew Brunette was asked over the phone Wednesday afternoon.
“Not a whole lot,” Brunette answered … followed by his signature loud, lengthy laugh.
It was the understatement of the century, and Brunette knew it.
Never in his wildest imagination did Brunette expect to ever coach the Florida Panthers, let alone take over the head job from Joel Quenneville — the man who brought Brunette to South Florida as an assistant coach in the summer of 2019 — so abruptly and in such an unforeseen manner after Quenneville was forced to resign Oct. 28 after meeting with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman regarding his role in the Chicago Blackhawks scandal and their mishandling of a sexual assault complaint in 2010.
The Panthers haven’t won a playoff round since 1996 and have long been this hard-luck and, to be blunt, unsuccessful franchise with a laundry list of instability that included continuous ownership changes, GM changes, coaching changes and, as a result, repeated overhauled “plans.”