After deciding to not bring back interim head coach Tom Rowe next season — though Rowe remains in the organization — the Florida Panthers are still looking to hire their next head coach.
This time, it’s a decision that needs to stick. The team has gone through six coaches in the past 12 years and the last two coaches to lead the team to a playoff berth (Kevin Dineen and Gerard Gallant) didn’t make it through another 82-game season after. You’ll be hard-pressed to find a successful team that has changed their head coaches with such frequency, so whoever the Panthers settle on should be a long-term solution.
The team has been linked with all sorts of names, from veteran NHL head coach Michel Therrien, to University of Denver head coach Jim Montgomery, who’s never been behind an NHL bench. Recently, Panthers general manager Dale Tallon spoke to Sportsnet about the kinds of candidates the team is after:
“We’re looking for a guy that’s a good communicator, is a good teacher, a modern guy, a contemporary-type guy that can deal with these millenials and Generation Z, whatever that means,” Tallon said. “That’s what we’re looking for, somebody that has a little experience, but who also is very knowledgeable about how to deal with young players because we have a young core.”
"We're interviewing anything from... head coaches in all leagues, college, junior, American League, assistant coaches in the NHL and also some past head coaches in the NHL, so it's a diverse group and it's been fun so far and we're going to take our time and do the right thing and what's best for our franchise.”
That criteria certainly doesn't rule out Bob Boughner, a current assistant coach for the San Jose Sharks who also served two terms as head coach of the OHL's Windsor Spitfires. He coached that team to back-to-back Memorial Cup championships in 2009 and 2010.
Boughner joined Sportsnet's Point Taken podcast with Caroline Cameron and Greg Brady on Wednesday where, among other things, he was asked about his desire to become a head coach in the NHL and specifically how he'd fit with the Panthers if they offered their open position to him.
"I've made no secret about my vision of where I want to get to and why I’m doing what I’m doing here and moving away from home and the family and the whole bit," Boughner said of his current spot with the Sharks. "I really like the Florida team to be honest with you.
Tallon spoke of the need for a coach who can connect with the young players on his team and Boughner's major junior experience certainly supports that demand. But Boughner may be uniquely qualified for the Florida job because of his connection with not only one of their stars, but a few of their veterans as well.
"I’ve known (Aaron) Ekblad his whole life. I see him all the time during the summer -- he’s actually buddies with my son. I see him around the house a lot," Boughner said. "I’ve got some familiarity with that team. I’ve had Derek MacKenzie in Columbus, had Reimer in San Jose, Pysyk and Petrovic at the under-18s, Ivan Hlinka (Tournament), so pretty familiar with the team and I think they have a great base moving forward.
"Whether I get the interview, there's been some talk and everbody's gone right now at the world championships but I think when the general managers all get back in town I think I have a good chance of getting down there and sitting in front of them so I'd be looking forward to that. But again it's so tough, 30 jobs in the whole world and there's great competition out there, great candidates."