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Sharks get 'fresh voice' in Boughner as coach

Players hope to respond, turn season around after DeBoer firing

by Ross McKeon / Independent Correspondent

SAN JOSE -- Bob Boughner can be the spark that turns around the season for the San Jose Sharks, players and management said Thursday.

Boughner, who took over after Peter DeBoer was fired as Sharks coach on Wednesday, was an assistant with San Jose from 2015-17 and returned to the staff this season after he was fired following two seasons as coach of the Florida Panthers.

"I think he's a well-spoken guy and he has a very clear message when he talks to people," defenseman Erik Karlsson said. "He's been a head coach before, so it's going to help him in this situation and the comfort level is going to be better. He's a fresh voice for us."

San Jose (15-16-2) has lost five games in a row (0-4-1), including 3-1 at the Nashville Predators on Tuesday.

"We have high expectations in this room, and they haven't been met so far so hopefully we can get back to winning some games," forward Joe Thornton said. "I love Pete, he's a fantastic coach. He took this team to where it's never been before (2016 Stanley Cup Final). I have nothing but heavy respect for Pete. But it might have been time for a new voice."

Sharks captain Logan Couture said Boughner communicated a strong message before the morning skate in advance of their game against the New York Rangers at SAP Center on Thursday (10:30 p.m. ET; NBCSCA, MSG, NHL.TV).

Video: SJS@CAR: Couture buries Karlsson's pass to knot score

"Pete and Boogie are the same," Couture said. "We loved playing for Pete, he was a great coach and a great person. Boogie talked to us as a leadership group. He's a guy you want to play for."

Boughner said he top priorities are to bring a fresh look and rejuvenated energy to the team that was 11-4-0 in November prior to the current winless streak.

"If you had to describe our team in one word, maybe we're a little bit predictable in all three zones of the ice," Boughner said. "My job is to come in here and obviously change that, and make sure that the guys are seeing something new and are getting excited about it."

General manager Doug Wilson echoed the need for energy a day after firing DeBoer along with assistants Steve Spott, Dave Barr and Johan Hedberg.

"I expect Bob to learn from his experiences and time in Florida," Wilson said. "He has his own ideas and thoughts, which he's going to apply."

Boughner, who was 80-62-22 in 164 games with the Panthers, was fired after they missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs in each of his two seasons. He was re-hired by DeBoer in May to coach the defense as he did with the Sharks until 2017.

"The players trust and believe in him," Wilson said. "And I think he'll bring that energy, juice and joy to the game I think our team is missing right now."

Forward Tomas Hertl is confident Boughner will succeed behind the bench but knows more Is expected of he and his teammates.

Video: SJS@ANA: Hertl nets equalizer for his second goal

"Boughner will be a great coach, he can handle the guys, but now it's time for the players to step up and play hockey," he said. "We have to step up."

Added Thornton: "Just compete, that's the bottom line. You can do whatever you want, but it's up to these 23 guys in here to compete every night. If we compete it'll give ourselves a good chance."

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