SUNRISE, Fla. - Bob Boughner is ready to lead the Florida Panthers.
Boughner, 46, was introduced as the 15th head coach in the franchise's 24-year history during an introductory press conference at the BB&T Center on Monday afternoon, flanked on the stage by the Panthers' General Manager Dale Tallon and President & CEO Matthew Caldwell.
"Bob Boughner impressed us like no one else," said Tallon, who interviewed roughly 15 coaches for the position. "All the years that I've been in the business -- interviewing coaches, firing coaches, meeting coaches -- Bob was the most prepared. His performance, his preparation and his passion knocked us out of the park. It was incredible to see."
A 10-year NHL veteran, Boughner -- aka The Boogieman - used to be known for his rugged and unselfish play on the blue, racking up 72 points (15-15-72) and 1,382 PIMs in 630 games for the Buffalo Sabres (1995-98), Nashville Predators (1998-00), Pittsburgh Penguins (2000-01), Calgary Flames (2001-03), Carolina Hurricanes (2003-04) and Colorado Avalanche (2004-06).
Now, he's known more for his skills behind the bench.
After hanging up his skates, Boughner immediately transitioned into the world of coaching, eventually leading the Ontario Hockey League's Windsor Spitfires to a pair of Memorial Cups in 2008 and 2009. In 2009 and 2010, he was named the OHL and the Canadian Hockey League's Coach of the Year.
A native of Windsor, Ontario, Boughner made his professional coaching debut as an assistant with the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2010-11 before heading back to the junior ranks for another brief stint with the Spitfires. For the past two seasons, he has served as an assistant coach in San Jose, where he helped the Sharks advance to the postseason twice and the Stanley Cup Final in 2016.
For Tallon, Boughner's resume hit all the right notes.
"I had a long list of guys from all walks," Tallon said. "We looked at junior coaches, college coaches, AHL head coaches, assistant coaches. 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 attitudes and more of a cotemporary look. I didn't want to look back."
Video: Bob Boughner press conference
Following the press conference, Boughner sat down with FloridaPanthers.com's Jameson Olive to share his vision for a brighter future in South Florida.
FloridaPanthers.com: How excited are you to be joining the Florida Panthers?
BOUGHNER: It's a dream of mine that I've had for a long time, to be a head coach in the National Hockey League. I'm very thankful for the opportunity. I'm excited for this team because they have an up-and-coming team here. I know they took a step backwards last year, but I really, truly believe that we're going to be going in the right direction. I love the personnel here. I believe in Dale [Tallon]. I've known him for a long time and I believe we have the right people here for success.
FloridaPanthers.com: With talented young players like Aleksander Barkov, Vincent Trocheck and Aaron Ekblad all locked into long-term contracts, are you confident that Florida's current core can be successful?
BOUGHNER: Yeah, for sure. If you look up the middle it's very strong. You've got Barkov and Trocheck as your top two [centers]. Then look at the back and you've got [Ekblad] and young guys like [Mike] Matheson sprinkled in with some good veterans. There are some guys that had great years last year, [Jonathan] Marchessault and guys like that. I truly believe that this team is ready to break out. Once we put together a staff and put our plan in place and have a good training camp, I think there's a ton of good things to come.
FloridaPanthers.com: You already sound ready for October!
BOUGHNER: I wish it was tomorrow [laughs]. But there is a lot of work ahead of us this summer. We've got to put a staff together and build our whole package out that we want to roll out on Day 1 at training camp. I'm looking forward to the challenge, obviously. From the outside looking in, this is a great place to be. I think it's going to be a lot of fun. Winning is fun. We're going to start to win.
FloridaPanthers.com: As a fellow Windsor, Ontario native, you've admittedly known Aaron Ekblad for quite some time. How excited are you to not only work with a player of that caliber, but also a family friend?
BOUGHNER: It's going to be a little odd because I've known him for so long. He's a great kid from a great family. I know he wants to sort-of have a response to last year as well. I know he's a proud kid and he's a face of this organization. We need him to stay healthy and get back to what made him tick the first year. I think he's excited. I've talked to him already and I know he's excited about the change. It's going to be good.
FloridaPanthers.com: Aside from Ekblad, the Panthers also have a wealth of other up-and-coming defenseman such as Mike Matheson and Ian McCoshen. As a former rearguard yourself, how exciting is it to have the opportunity to influence and mold such an impressive group of young blue liners?
BOUGHNER: I think that's going to be the challenge. If I have a strength, I think that's one of them. It's about finding the finer details on the defensive side of the game, especially from a defenseman's point of view. I love that challenge. It's what I've done my whole coaching career. I've developed guys at the junior level and then I went to San Jose and had my hands on guys like Brent Burns and Brendan Dillon, the younger D. That's what I love to do. We're going to jump right in, dig right in with that group. I'd like to see a huge bounce back from the whole group, but it starts back there, for sure.
FloridaPanthers.com: You had a lot of success in the junior ranks, but, as you briefly touched on during the press conference, coaching can be very different when you're dealing with professionals. How much did coaching in San Jose these past two seasons help prepare you for this new challenge?
BOUGHNER: It's been amazing. They have some superstars [in San Jose] and they also have some good young players there. It's a similar situation that I'm coming into now. The year before I got there they missed the playoffs. Then we came in and it was an immediate boost. That's the same thing we're looking for there. I think the players are going to respond to it. They're going to have a little new life. It's a clean slate for a lot of guys. They have a lot of guys, from what I know, that are already hungry to forget about last year and bounce back.
FloridaPanthers.com: There certainly aren't a lot of warm-weather coaching jobs in the NHL. On a more personal note, how nice was it to be able to move from San Jose to Sunrise?
BOUGHNER: Yeah, people are a peeved off at me [laughs]. I'm lucky to have had the opportunity to now live in two great areas. It's amazing. I'm excited to move down here and immerse myself in the community and help this franchise get back to where it belongs.
FloridaPanthers.com: Speaking of the fans, you'll be meeting with them on June 29 at the BB&T Center, correct?
BOUGHNER: Yep. We're going to meet all the fans. I already got to meet all of the staff and a lot of other people today. It'll be great to introduce myself to the people that support the Florida Panthers.