Florida Panthers

New coach gives Florida Panthers a new look as they kick off a new season

Florida Panthers coach Bob Boughner on the ice with players during their first practice of the season in Coral Springs on Friday.
Florida Panthers coach Bob Boughner on the ice with players during their first practice of the season in Coral Springs on Friday. ctrainor@miamiherald.com

One of the things that impressed Dale Tallon most when he first interviewed Bob Boughner for the Florida Panthers coaching job was his attention to detail.

Boughner came to his meeting completely prepared to talk about every player within the organization and was ready to discuss specifics on how he planned to help get the Panthers back on track if hired.

Well, Boughner got the job — and on Friday, he was able to start implementing his grand plan.

The Panthers opened their new season on Friday morning in Coral Springs as Boughner and his new coaching staff ran two sets of practices due to the large number of early camp.

Florida will continue this routine through Sunday with a scrimmage scheduled for Monday morning and the first exhibition games of the preseason coming in a double-header Tuesday in Nashville.

“This was a lot of fun. Day 1 is in the books,” Boughner said Friday afternoon following the completion of his first practices as an NHL head coach.

“I was impressed. The guys came out and worked extremely hard on system play and they seemed to grasp it right off the hop. They seemed excited about the newness of it. I have been thinking about this day for a couple months. A lot of work went into this.”

Former New York Islanders coach and new Florida Panthers assistant Jack Capuano watches defenseman Aaron Ekblad shoot during the first day of training camp on Friday morning. CHARLES TRAINOR JR ctrainor@miamiherald.com

Tallon said he was impressed with the style of play Boughner is bringing in.

“It’s a fast-pace game I think our guys are going to enjoy playing,” Tallon said. “It’s cut-and-dry what they have to do.”

On Thursday, Tallon said he gathered his team and told them to put last year’s disappointments behind them.

“I said I’m only going to talk about this once; and here’s what happened,” Tallon said in between practices on Friday.

“We learned from it. The past is the past. I’m focused on today and tomorrow and our players should think that same way.”


Some old faces were back in Coral Springs as Evgenii Dadonov and Brandon Pirri took part in their first practices in their second stints with the Panthers.

Dadonov was drafted by the Panthers in 2007 and played in 55 games in parts of three seasons before being traded to Carolina in 2012.

He spent the past five seasons in the KHL — he scored 53 goals in the past two — and signed a three-year deal with Florida in July.

“It’s a weird feeling, like this is a new team for me although it’s not.” Dadonov said. “I was here five years ago an everything seems new around here. I know some of the people here, but most I do not.

“I spoke to a lot of people about the Panthers before I signed, and I believe in second chances. I’m mentally prepared for this. I have changed too. I’m older, I hope stronger and smarter. But I’m more experienced. I think it’s going to be great here.”

Florida Panthers players skate the rink during the first practice of the season in Coral Springs on Friday. CHARLES TRAINOR JR ctrainor@miamiherald.com

Pirri scored 11 goals with 24 points before injuring an ankle during the 2015-16 season and being traded to Anaheim while working his way back from the injury.

After a disappointing season with the Rangers last year, Pirri is back with the Panthers on a try-out basis.

Boughner says there are a few open spots to fill this camp and Pirri wants one of them.

“I want to force their hand, I want to force them to say ‘we need Pirri on this team’,” Pirri said. “I believe in what I can do and I know Dale does as well. That’s why I was given this opportunity.”

Said Tallon: “He has the opportunity to come back here and be successful. He can score goals and that’s something we need. He was one of the best players on the ice this morning. That’s why I think we can find a spot for him.”

▪ The Panthers will practice Saturday and Sunday from 10:25 a.m.-1:15 p.m. at the IceDen in Coral Springs; Monday's scrimmage starts at 10:30 a.m.

Admission is free.

George Richards: 305-376-4995, @GeorgeRichards