SUNRISE, Fla. — Bob Boughner never made the Florida Panthers as a player. He’s on the brink of joining them as their next coach.
A person with knowledge of the situation said Saturday that the Panthers have offered Boughner the job, and that some remaining details between the team and the former NHL defenceman should be worked out by Monday. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the deal has not been finalized.
Boughner spent the past two seasons as an assistant coach in San Jose, working under former Florida coach Peter DeBoer. He has never been a head coach in the NHL.
TSN first reported that Boughner and the Panthers were closing in on a deal.
The Panthers have been without a coach since April, following the end-of-season firing of interim coach Tom Rowe — who took over when Florida ousted Gerard Gallant early in the season and only a few months after he led the team to the Atlantic Division title. Dale Tallon returned to his general manager role as part of the April moves, and said then he was not averse to hiring someone who hadn’t been behind an NHL bench before.
"I think we’ve got a quick-fix here ahead of us," Tallon said at the time.
Florida was one of the biggest disappointments in the league this past season, finishing with the 22nd-best record in the 30-team NHL and missing the Eastern Conference playoffs by 14 points.
Boughner would become the franchise’s 15th coach in 23 years, and its fifth since 2011. He has been known to be in the Panthers’ candidate pool for the past several weeks, and has been teammates in the past with Jaromir Jagr — a free-agent-in-waiting who has been with Florida since February 2015 and likely is a candidate to be back with the Panthers next season.
Jagr will turn 46 next February, a month or so before Boughner will turn 47.
Boughner told WindsorEssexTV last month that he was on a list in Florida "with some other amazing candidates."
"We’ll see what happens," Boughner said at the time. "But obviously, that’s my dream, that’s why I’m doing what I’m doing and cross your fingers."
Boughner signed with the Panthers as a free agent in 1994, but never made the NHL club and played only for Florida’s minor-league affiliates. The native of Windsor, Ontario, played in 630 NHL games with Colorado, Carolina, Calgary, Pittsburgh, Nashville and Buffalo, finishing his career with 15 goals and 1,382 penalty minutes.
His past head coaching experience has been with the Windsor Spitfires of the Ontario Hockey League, where he was a two-time coach of the year. Boughner has remained an executive with the Spitfires.
Boughner would also be the fourth recent Panthers coach with ties to Detroit’s former AHL team in Glens Falls, New York, the Adirondack Red Wings. Rowe and Gallant both played for Adirondack, as did Boughner. And former Florida coach Kevin Dineen’s father, Bill Dineen, was a longtime coach in Glens Falls.