Family draws Ramsay back to Florida

In a sense, Craig Ramsay is going home.

Ramsay grew up outside Toronto and spent 22 NHL seasons in Buffalo as a player and coach. He found warmer confines in 1993 when he went to Florida to help start the expansion Panthers. Ramsay, and several of his children, established roots in Florida.

The NHL life took him to other cities — Tampa, Philadelphia, Ottawa, Boston and Atlanta — but now he is going back.

The former Thrashers coach was announced as an assistant coach with the Panthers on Thursday. Ramsay coached the Thrashers for one season before the franchise was sold and relocated to Winnipeg, Manitoba. Ramsay interviewed for his position, but was not hired.

“It is kind of like going home,” Ramsay said. “A couple of other teams and I had discussions, but this seemed to make the most sense. It felt comfortable. It just seemed to be the right fit.”

Ramsay’s son, Travis, lives in Fort Lauderdale. He and his wife are expecting their first child in December. Ramsay’s son, Brandon, is a teacher near Tampa, just a few hours away. Ramsay won the Stanley Cup as an assistant with the Lightning in 2004.

Ramsay knows Florida vice president and general manager Dale Tallon from their playing days. Also on new coach Kevin Dineen’s staff is assistant Gord Murphy, who was a player for the Panthers during Ramsay’s two seasons (1993-95) with the team. Defenseman Ed Jovanovski also has returned to the Panthers, where he spent his first four NHL seasons. He was coming up in the organization when Ramsay was there. The connections made for an easy return.

“We are pleased to welcome Craig back to the Florida Panthers family,” Tallon said in a statement. “He is a brilliant hockey mind and brings to our organization a wealth of hockey experience having served as player, head coach, assistant coach and director of player personnel.

“Craig’s vast knowledge of the game will be an asset for hea coach Kevin Dineen, our entire coaching staff and all our players.”

Ramsay, who had one year remaining on his contract to coach the Thrashers, said he thought briefly about taking a year off.

“I just really wanted to get back to work,” Ramsay said.

In other news regarding former Thrashers:

  • General manager Rick Dudley accepted a front-office position with Toronto.
  • John Torchetti, who spent last season as the Thrashers' associate coach, has been hired to coach the Houston Aeros, the AHL affiliate of Minnesota.
  • Clint Malarchuk, who was the Thrashers' goaltender coach last season, was hired by Calgary in the same capacity.
  • Captain Andrew Ladd signed a five-year, $22 million contract with Winnipeg just before the restricted free agent could have filed for salary arbitration. Winnipeg officials have said Ladd will remain captain of the Jets.
  • Zach Bogosian, Blake Wheeler, Arturs Kulda, Spencer Machacek and Ben Maxwell, other restricted free agents, received qualifying offers from Winnipeg.
  • Anthony Stewart and Rob Schremp did not receive qualifying offers and became unrestricted free agents. Stewart signed a two-year, $1.8 million deal with Carolina.
  • Radek Dvorak signed a one-year, $1.5 million deal with Dallas.
  • Eric Boulton, Freddy Meyer and Noah Welch remain unrestricted free agents.
  • Ben Eager, who began last season with the Thrashers and was traded to San Jose, signed a three-year, $3.3 million deal with Edmonton.
  • Niclas Bergfors, who began last season with the Thrashers before being traded to Florida, signed with Nashville.
  • Drew McIntyre, who was brought up from the minors as a second goaltender because of injuries last season, signed with Buffalo.

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