The Florida Panthers will hire San Jose Sharks assistant Bob Boughner as the 15th head coach in franchise history according to sources within the organization.
Bob MacKenzie of Canada’s TSN was the first to report the news that the Panthers offered Boughner the job on Saturday morning.
A source said the Panthers could make the move official on Sunday.
Florida has been without a coach since Tom Rowe was not asked to return after a rocky tenure as interim coach.
The Panthers fired Gerard Gallant on Nov. 27 after a loss in Raleigh after parts of three seasons. Gallant was named the first coach of the Vegas Golden Knights in April.
Boughner has spent the past two seasons as an assistant coach with the San Jose Sharks under former Florida coach Pete DeBoer. He was a candidate for the vacant job in Colorado last year and was in talks with Buffalo for their coaching position as well.
“I really like the Florida team to be honest with you,” Boughner told Sportsnet’s Point Taken podcast last month.
With Florida possibly hiring Boughner it appears the Sabres will land Nashville assisstant coach Phil Housley.
Both Florida and Buffalo were seemingly waiting until the Stanley Cup Finals were complete before making a hire.
Boughner would become the 15th coach of the Panthers and fifth in their past six (including interim coaches Peter Horachek and Rowe) to come in without any previous NHL head coaching experience.
Florida general manager Dale Tallon, who fired DeBoer following the 2010-11 season, has hired the past three Florida fulltime coaches including Kevin Dineen, DeBoer’s replacement who only had minor league head coaching experience.
Gallant, hired in 2014, had previously been head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Boughner is no stranger to the Florida Panthers organization although he hasn’t been around it in some time.
As a defenseman, Boughner signed with the Panthers in 1994 and played for Florida’s minor league affiliates for parts of two seasons before the Panthers traded him to Buffalo in 1996. Boughner then made his NHL debut with the Sabres.
Boughner, 46, spent 10 seasons in the NHL playing 630 NHL games with Colorado, Carolina, Calgary, Pittsburgh, Nashville and Buffalo.
Boughner was a teammate of free agent forward Jaromir Jagr — whom the Panthers are in talks with abour returning next season — with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Before retiring in 2006, Boughner was part of an ownership group which bought the Canadian junior team in his hometown of Windsor, Ontario, near Detroit.
Boughner took over coaching the Windsor Spitfires in 2006 and was a two-time Ontario Hockey League coach of the year winner. The Spitfires won the Canadian Memorial Cup in 2009 and again in 2010.
Florida defenseman Aaron Ekblad grew up in Windsor and, while he didn’t play for the Spitfires, he is close to Boughner and his family.
Boughner was an assistant coach with Columbus in 2010-11 when current Florida captain Derek MacKenzie played for the Blue Jackets before returning to the Spitfires.
“This is a guy who has played the game and relates to players very well,’’ Derek MacKenzie said on Saturday.
“I thought he was a real players coach. I have followed his career and you could always tell he would be a head coach some day.“
With the Sharks, Boughner was in charge of San Jose’s defense which features Norris Trophy finalist Brett Burns.
“I’ve known Ekblad his whole life,” Boughner said on the Sportnet podcast.
“I see him all the time during the summer — he’s actually buddies with my son. I see him around the house a lot.
“I’ve got some familiarity with that team. I’ve had Derek MacKenzie in Columbus, had [goalie James] Reimer in San Jose, [Mark] Pysyk and [Alex]Petrovic at the under-18s ... so pretty familiar with the team and I think they have a great base moving forward.”
FLORIDA PANTHERS COACHES
Roger Nielson 1993-95
Doug MacLean 1995-97
Bryan Murray 1997-98
Terry Murray 1998-2000
Duane Sutter 2000-01
Mike Keenan 2001-03
Rick Dudley 2003-04
John Torchetti 2004
Jacques Martin 2004-08
Pete DeBoer 2008-11
Kevin Dineen 2011-13
Peter Horachek 2013-14
Gerard Gallant 2014-16
Tom Rowe 2016-17