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Massena native Mark Morris joins Florida Panthers as assistant coach

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FLA. - The Florida Panthers announced Monday that Massena native Mark Morris has joined the organization as an assistant coach for the National Hockey League club.

Here’s the release from the Panthers’ website:

Florida Panthers Executive Vice President and General Manager Dale Tallon announced today that Mike Kelly and Mark Morris have been named the club’s new assistant coaches. The pair, along with assistant coach John Madden and goaltending coach Robb Tallas will serve on the team’s coaching staff under Head Coach Gerard Gallant. Brian Skrudland will return to his role as director of player development for the Panthers.

“We are pleased to welcome Mike and Mark to our coaching staff,” said Tallon. “They bring to our club a wealth of hockey knowledge and experience and will be the perfect fit to work together with Gerard, John and Robb. I would also like to sincerely thank Brian for his hard work and dedication, after stepping in last season to serve as an assistant coach. We are happy to have him return to his previous role and oversee the growth and development of our prospects.”

Kelly, 54, spent the last four seasons working with the Saint John Sea Dogs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, serving as head coach and general manager (2012-2013) and director of hockey operations/associate head coach (2009-2012). Working alongside Gallant, the duo led the Sea Dogs to three first-place finishes, three league final appearances, two QMJHL championships (2011 & 2012) and one Memorial Cup (2011).

Prior to working in Saint John, Kelly spent three years with the Vancouver Canucks organization (2005-2008) as an assistant coach with both the Canucks and the Manitoba Moose (American Hockey League). At the major junior level, Kelly has experience in both coaching and management with the Brandon Wheat Kings (Western Hockey League), North Bay Centennials (Ontario Hockey League) and Windsor Spitfires (OHL).

Kelly also led Team Canada to a gold medal at the 2003 IIHF World Under-18 Championship, serving as head coach. He was also an assistant on Team Canada’s coaching staff at the IIHF World Junior Championship from 2000-2002.

Morris, 56, has spent the last eight seasons as head coach of the Manchester Monarchs (AHL), earning a record of 338-224-66 in the regular season and 35-50 in the postseason. He owns Manchester’s record for most games coached (552), regular season wins (338) and post-season wins (35), while his teams have advanced to the playoffs seven out of eight years under his guidance. The Monarchs posted a 48-19-2-6 mark during the 2013-2014 season, including a franchise-low in losses, while winning the AHL’s Eastern Conference Championship.

A majority of Morris’ coaching career was spent behind the bench with the Clarkson Golden Knights (Eastern Athletic Conference). Hired by Clarkson in 1988, Morris compiled an overall record of 306-156-42 in 504 regular season games and a playoff record of 39-19-1. His teams have appeared in nine NCAA tournaments and one Frozen Four. He is the winningest coach in the history of Clarkson University and the only coach to win more than 300 games at each of the professional and collegiate levels.

Before working in Manchester, Morris began his professional hockey coaching career when he served as the special assistant coach/interim strength and conditioning coach for the Vancouver Canucks. Morris also served as an interim assistant coach for the Saginaw Spirit (OHL).

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Morris will have a Clarkson connection with the Panthers. Florida signed former Clarkson defenseman and Stanley Cup champion Willie Mitchell to a contract last week.

The free agent defenseman was an integral part of the Los Angeles blueline corps in their Stanley Cup run this past sping.

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