Panthers hire former Blackhawks assistant coach Mike Kitchen

Former Chicago forward Andrew Brunette is also reuniting with Joel Quenneville in Florida.

The Panthers made the move official Tuesday when they hired former Blackhawks assistant coach Mike Kitchen for the same role.

Andy Strickland of Fox Sports Midwest first reported the news a month ago.

Florida also named former Chicago forward Andrew Brunette an assistant. The 45-year-old Brunette scored 12 goals and 27 points in 78 regular-season games then added six goals and an assist in the Blackhawks’ first-round series against the Coyotes during the 2011-12 season.

Kitchen, 63, is a longtime trusted assistant for Joel Quenneville, who was named the Panthers head coach April 8. The pair won two Stanley Cup championships together in 2013 and 2015 with the Blackhawks.

“We have assembled a talented coaching staff with unique perspectives and a wealth of hockey experience,” Quenneville in a release. “I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to work with a proven coach and a quality person like Mike Kitchen again, as well as Andrew Brunette who is a bright, young, hockey mind who I coached as a player.

“It’s exciting to welcome former Panthers captain Derek MacKenzie to our staff as he enters the NHL coaching ranks following a great playing career. Together with longtime goaltending coach Robb Tallas, we are motivated by the task ahead of us. Our staff is eager to begin working towards our goal of bringing playoff hockey back to South Florida.”

Chicago fired Kitchen as an assistant in April 2017 following a first-round sweep at the hands of the Predators. Kitchen has stayed out of coaching since then and even reportedly turned down a job with the Wild.

Prior to joining Chicago, Kitchen spent eight seasons as an assistant with the Maple Leafs before leaving for the Blues in the same role. He was elevated to head coach midway through the 2003-04 season after Quenneville was fired. Kitchen guided St. Louis to a 38-70-4-19 record before he was fired in December 2006. He then joined the Panthers as an assistant for three seasons.