The Florida Panthers are expected announce Bob Boughner as their newest coach on Monday depending on how Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Finals go.
The NHL doesn’t like teams making major announcements during its premier event. If there’s a Game 7 on Wednesday, the press conference may not come until the end of the week.
No matter the timing of the announcement, sources confirm Boughner will become the 15th head coach in franchise history after spending the past two seasons as an assistant under former Florida coach Pete DeBoer in San Jose.
DeBoer had nothing but praise for his soon-to-be former defensive assistant.
“I think it's a great hire,” said DeBoer, who coached the Panthers from 2008-11 and has since coached New Jersey and the Sharks to the Stanley Cup Finals.
“The best compliment I can give him is that if I was hiring a new coach for a team, he would be a guy I would hire.
“When you work together day in and day out, you get to know their strengths and weaknesses. Coming through that process and working relationship, I have great respect for him and that shows how great a coach he is and the kind of coach the Florida Panthers are getting.”
The Panthers interviewed a number of candidates — including former Montreal coach Michel Therrien and University of Denver coach Jim Montgomery — but did not get official time with Nashville assistant and Hall of Fame defenseman Phil Housley as the Predators advanced so far in the NHL postseason.
Montgomery pulled his name out of consideration earlier this month to stay with the Pioneers.
“My family and I are very happy here,” Montgomery said in a text message to the Denver Post.
Montgomery's team recently won the NCAA national title and he spoke with Florida general manager Dale Tallon at least on two occasions about the vacancy.
Florida has been without a coach since Tom Rowe was let go after an interim stint for the final 60 games of last season when Gerard Gallant was fired after an 11-10-1 start.
The Panthers went 24-26-10 under Rowe with a lot of players complaining to management and ownership about his coaching style.
Boughner, a former NHL defenseman who spent parts of two seasons in Florida's minor league system from 1994-96, is regarded as a smart tactician who is can work well with both veteran and younger players.
“He has everything that you are looking for in a modern day coach,” DeBoer said of Boughner, who spent parts of 10 NHL seasons with Colorado, Carolina, Calgary, Pittsburgh (where he was a teammate of Jaromir Jagr), Nashville and Buffalo.
“He gets today's athlete.”
A two-time Ontario Hockey League coach of the year with the Windsor Spitfires, Boughner has great experience working with younger players.
Yet he left the OHL team (he remains part of the ownership group in Windsor and is team president) twice to work behind an NHL bench.
Boughner spent the 2010-11 season as an assistant with the Columbus Blue Jackets before returning to the Spitfires.
In 2015, he left Windsor again, this time for San Jose.
In his first season, the Sharks reached the Stanley Cup Final by giving up an average of 2.33 goals per postseason game.
This past season, the Sharks were fifth in goals allowed; Florida, on the other hand, ranked 21st.
“He came up the right way,” DeBoer said. “He rode the buses and didn't just expect to get a job. He worked hard for this, paid his dues and deserves this. I have no doubt he is going to be successful.”
Aside for playing for Florida's minor league teams back in the 1990s, Boughner has longtime ties to star defenseman Aaron Ekblad as the Florida defenseman grew up near Windsor and the Detroit area.
Boughner also coached Florida defensemen Mark Pysyk and Alex Petrovic at the 2009 Ivan Hlinka under-18 tournament.
Florida goalie James Reimer was traded from Toronto to San Jose in 2016 while Florida captain Derek MacKenzie played for the Blue Jackets when Boughner was there in 2010-11.
“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.“
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
(*) — Coached the Panthers to at least one postseason appearence