By David Dwork

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SUNRISE (CBSMiami) – Just hours after the Stanley Cup Finals came to a close, the Florida Panthers shifted attention to the season ahead.

Monday morning Panthers President of Hockey Operations & General Manager Dale Tallon  announced what had been rumored all weekend; Bob Boughner has been hired as the team’s new head coach.

“After an exhaustive search, we are pleased to welcome Bob as the new head coach of the Panthers,” said Tallon. “He sees the game in a modern way and is eager to work with our young players. During the interview process, Bob blew us away with his preparation, his passion, knowledge and dedication to the game. We believe that he is the right leader to get our team back to competing towards our goal of winning the Stanley Cup.”

Tallon was tasked with leading the search and he was assisted by several people inside the organization, including Panthers President and CEO Matthew Caldwell.

“Vinnie [Viola] was very clear at the end of the season that Dale would lead the process and then make the final decision,” Caldwell said. “We wanted him to go out and gather as much information as possible and talk to as many people as possible, bounce some ideas off of me. A few weeks ago, he brought me in to meet a few candidates and I was just blown away by Bob. I’m not going to comment on his hockey expertise, I’ll let Dale do that. But from a cultural perspective and knowing what the owners want, the intensity and preparation and the type of person they want leading this team. I thought he fit all of those characteristics.”

Boughner, 46, is a former NHL defenseman who has been working his way up the coaching ranks since his playing career ended.

He spent the past two seasons in San Jose working as an assistant under former Panthers coach Peter DeBoer.  His NHL coaching career began as an assistant with Columbus in 2010.

“I want to congratulate Bob as he takes this next step in an already distinguished coaching career, and thank him for the contributions he made to our team and many of our individual players,” DeBoer said in a statement. “While we hate to lose him, it’s the ultimate compliment to an organization when members of your team are sought out by others.”

This is Boughner’s first head coaching job in the NHL.

“I’ve been a player, I’ve been an owner, I’ve been an executive, I’ve been a head coach, an assistant coach,” Boughner said. “I know this league and I know the game and I’m ready for this challenge.”

He previously worked as a head coach of the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires, winning Coach of the Year honors twice during his eight seasons.

Boughner led the Spitfires to consecutive J. Ross Robertson Cups and consecutive Memorial Cups in 2009 and 2010.

He becomes Florida’s 15th coach in 23 years, and the team’s fifth since 2011.

“I think we have a lot of great pieces here to build something special here in South Florida,” Boughner said. “Their setup here for the future is unbelievable.”

Speaking of the future, Boughner’s new gig will kick into high-gear almost immediately.

The NHL Expansion Draft is coming up next Wednesday on June 21st and then the NHL Draft begins just two days later.

All in all, the Panthers are extremely confident that they’ve found the right man for the job.

“It was an exhaustive, extensive search,” Tallon said. “We interviewed 15 coaches and talked to half of a dozen more and everyone said the same thing about the great potential and great future that this franchise has. It was good to hear. But of all of the interviews and of all of the people, Bob Boughner here impressed us like no one else. Of all of the years I’ve been in the business, interviewing coaches, firing coaches, meeting coaches, Bob was the most prepared.  His performance, his preparation, his passion knocked us out of the park.”


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