Florida Panthers president of hockey operations and GM Dale Tallon noticed his team wasn’t heading in the right direction following a season of turmoil within the organization and knew he needed to make a move.
Tallon spoke hours after the Panthers officially hired Bob Boughner as their next head coach on Monday during an interview on Sportsnet 590 The Fan’s Prime Time Sports.
“It’s a good thing we realized it quickly that we went off track,” Tallon said. “I’ll give Vinny [owner Vincent J. Viola] and Doug [vice-chairman Douglas A. Cifu] a lot of credit for realizing that and let’s get back to where we were.
“Getting Bob into the fold with his passion and preparation will really help. Our players are really going to perform for him, they’re really going to like him. It will get back quickly.”
Florida had a rocky start to the season that saw key centres Jonathan Huberdeau and Nick Bjugstad go down with injury. The team decided to go in a new direction in late November, firing head coach Gerard Gallant and replacing him with then-GM Tom Rowe on an interim basis.
The move didn’t help as the Panthers finished the season with a 35-36-11 record and well out of a playoff spot. The Panthers had made the playoffs in 2015-16.
Tallon was then reinstated on April 10 as the team’s GM — a role he held from 2010-16 — and removed Rowe from his GM and interim coach title.
The hiring of Boughner is a move that Tallon thinks is a great fit for the young Panthers core.
“He really knocked it out of the park in our interviews,” Tallon said. “His preparation was the best I’ve seen in a long time. He had everything down in terms of his systems and philosophies and all that and really blew us out of the water, it was first class.”
Boughner comes to Florida from the San Jose Sharks where he was an assistant coach for the last two seasons.
Tallon said that Boughner interviewed with him for a coaching position when he was an executive in the Chicago Blackhawks organization. The two sides agreed at the time that Boughner wasn’t ready to make the jump, but Tallon said that it’s different this time around.
The Panthers are going to play a faster paced game and be more aggressive under Boughner, Tallon said. Their young defencemen, such as Aaron Ekblad and Alex Petrovic, are also expected to be more involved.
Tallon also commented on contract discussions with forward Jaromir Jagr. The 45-year-old is a pending free agent and Tallon said that he and Jagr’s agent have had some healthy discussions but that they’re going to sit tight and see what happens with the expansion draft, which takes place June 21 at the NHL Awards.