SUNRISE, Fla. -- Bob Boughner was named coach of the Florida Panthers on Monday.
"I always wanted to coach at the end of my career," Boughner said. "I worked hard at it and spent a lot of time developing players. I put in my time and I'm ready. I learned the craft and I have a lot of knowledge of the League. I'm going to make the organization proud, and I'm going to make the fans proud."
Boughner, 46, was an assistant with the San Jose Sharks for the past two seasons under coach Peter DeBoer and reached the Stanley Cup Final last season. He coached Windsor of the Ontario Hockey League for eight seasons and won the Memorial Cup in 2009 and 2010, and was an assistant with the Columbus Blue Jackets on Scott Arniel's staff in 2010-11.
This is Boughner's first job as coach in the NHL, and he's the 15th coach in Panthers history. The former NHL defenseman had 72 points (15 goals, 57 assists) in 630 games during 10 seasons with the Buffalo Sabres, Nashville Predators, Pittsburgh Penguins, Calgary Flames, Carolina Hurricanes and Colorado Avalanche before retiring in 2006.
Video: Florida Panthers name Bob Boughner head coach
"I've been thinking of this for a long time," he said. "I tried to stay patient, put my time in, work hard at it, which I've done. I feel this is the right people and right group to work with, and sometimes that doesn't always happen. When these jobs come up you have to accept what's there. I feel like I got the best of both worlds."
Boughner replaces Tom Rowe, who was reassigned by the Panthers on April 10. Rowe finished the season as coach after Gerard Gallant was fired on Nov. 27. The Panthers were 35-36-11 and were 14 points out of the second wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference after winning the Atlantic Division last season.
General manager Dale Tallon said he knew right after he interviewed Boughner about two weeks ago that he had found his man. Tallon said Boughner came to the interview with two stacks of files, one including analytics information and the other detailing philosophy.
"Bob impressed us like no one else," Tallon said. "All the years I've been in the business, Bob was the most prepared. His preparation, his passion knocked us out of the park."
Boughner was teammates with Panthers forward Jaromir Jagr in Pittsburgh from 1999-2001, and he has ties to other Florida players; His son is close friends with defenseman Aaron Ekblad, and he coached forward Derek MacKenzie in Columbus, goaltender James Reimer in San Jose, and defensemen Mark Pysyk and Alex Petrovic at the Under-18 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Cup.
Video: Boughner talks with NHL Tonight about his new job
"I believe in Dale, I believe in this group," Boughner said. "I think we have a lot of great pieces to build a winner. I love the lineup. That's the thing that made me the most excited."
Boughner reportedly interviewed with the Sabres for their coaching vacancy and last year was a finalist for the Avalanche coaching job that went to Jared Bednar after Patrick Roy's resignation.
"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. "While we hate to lose him, it's the ultimate compliment to an organization when members of your team are sought out by others."
Tallon said he interviewed 15 candidates and talked to about six more. Among those reportedly interviewed were University of Denver coach Jim Montgomery and former Montreal Canadiens coach Michel Therrien.
"I started off with a list," Tallon said. "I made a long list of guys from all walks -- junior coaches, college coaches, AHL head coaches, assistant coaches -- and I wanted guys that were probably newer, not necessarily the most experienced. Being a head coach in the NHL wasn't really the No. 1 criteria for my list that I put together.
"I wanted new voices, new faces, new attitude, more of a contemporary look. I didn't want to go back. There were a lot of good coaches that had NHL coaching experience that I had good conversations [with], but they weren't exactly what I felt was necessary for us moving forward long term. That was my plan of attack and I identified a lot of different names. Obviously, Bob was on the list and then we started paring that down. This was the right choice."
The Sabres are the only NHL team without a coach.
Photo credit: FloridaPanthers.com