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SUNRISE (CBSMiami) – Bob Boughner isn’t wasting any time after being named the new head coach of the Florida Panthers on Monday.
The 46-year-old came into his interview with Panthers general manager Dale Tallon already having a plan in place.
Now he is beginning to put that plan into action, and it starts with opening a line of communication with his new players.
“I touched base with a couple of guys already,” Boughner said Wednesday on 560 WQAM’s Joe Rose Show (full interview can be heard at top of page). “The good thing about a fresh face is these guys are going to have a clean slate.”
Coming off of the most successful season in franchise history back in 2015-16, the Panthers took a step backwards last year.
An adjusting group of new defensemen, injuries to key players and an early season coaching change sent Florida’s season into a downward spiral that they just couldn’t recover from.
While staying healthy is always a wild card, there is no reason to think the Panthers can’t bounce back to the kind of success they saw two seasons ago.
The players surely know this and now, so does their new coach.
“They want a bounce back season. These guys know they have talent,” Boughner said. “People in the league told me this is a great job if you can get it, with what they’ve built there.”
There is certainly an opportunity for instant success in Florida but the franchise is also build to thrive for years to come.
Considering the Panthers will be on their third head coach in two years, Boughner plans on keeping things as far from complicated as possible.
“There’s going to be a real simple structure in place, the guys are going to love it,” Boughner said Tuesday on WQAM’s Big O Show.
A quick turnaround is something that Boughner is quite familiar with.
During Boughner’s first year on Peter DeBoer’s staff with the San Jose Sharks, the team recovered from a playoff-less 89 point season to not only make the playoffs, but reach the Stanley Cup Finals.
The obvious hope in Florida is that Boughner can lead a similar reversal and get the most out of the young and talent-rich Panthers.
“These guys want to be coached,” Boughner said “They want a fair and open guy and I think they want accountability.”
Having a coach who played in the NHL for 12 seasons certainly helps with the communication factor.
“I’m relatable to the player,” Boughner said. “It’s almost like I’m still playing in my mind”
He has seen coaching success at many levels, from the OHL as a back-to-back Memorial Cup winning head coach all the way up to the NHL as an assistant in the Stanley Cup Finals.
This is especially impressive considering when he began coaching the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires, Boughner had no coaching experience. Zero.
He believes a big part of success, regardless of the level, is leadership.
It’s something that Boughner has put to use throughout his playing career and carried it over to his time as a coach.
“Not only have I played but I’ve been a captain in the NHL,” he said “I have a good background of being a leader and trying to say the right things.”
MORE BOUGHNER NOTES AND QUOTES
When asked about the style of play he wants to incorporate with the Panthers, Boughner indicated he wants to combine a couple of key elements into Florida’s roster; speed and toughness.
“People like to use the word fast and I agree with that, but there are different ways to spread teams out. Tough hockey to me is finishing your hits and winning the 50/50 battles.”
Boughner was also asked about Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad, who he has known for several years.
“He’s going to be a superstar, he’s a franchise player,” Boughner said of Ekblad. “He knows me well enough to be able to come in and open up and I’ll be able to do the same. I’ve known him since he was a kid.”
Ekblad echoed similar sentiments when asked about Boughner over the weekend.
“I’ve known Bob Boughner for a long time,” Ekblad told the Windsor Star on Sunday. “From what I know, players love to be coached by him and he’s been on winning teams.”
To hear what Boughner had to say the day he was hired, click here to hear his full interview with WQAM’s Hochman and Crowder Show from Monday afternoon.
Boughner’s Tuesday appearance on the Big O Show can be listened to by clicking below.