In the first period of the Florida Panthers final home game before the NHL All-Star break, Paul Maurice received a standing ovation from the crowd in Sunrise.
Maurice, 57, had officially passed Barry Trotz for second on the NHL all-time coaching list, and the Panthers honored him by playing a highlight reel of some of his biggest games on their Jumbotron.
His first game on Nov. 7, 1995, came after the Hartford Whalers promoted him from a first-year assistant coach to their head job.
The Whale won that one, 7-3, over San Jose. Maurice is now at 1,815 regular season games, trailing only Hall of Famer Scotty Bowman with 2,141.
“There was a lot of hair in that first picture,” Maurice joked following Florida’s 6-2 win over the Arizona Coyotes, the second of what is now a four-game winning streak.
When talking about the reaction from the crowd, Maurice got a little emotional.
Maurice noted a year ago that the response almost certainly would have been different as the Panthers struggled during the first half of his first season behind their bench.
“It was nice, really nice,” Maurice said. “I don’t know if they all felt the same way last January. But that’s pro sports for you, right? It was very nice. I got the feeling of home here.”
Things turned around for Maurice and the Panthers about this time last year, and the good times keep rolling.