The Florida Panthers have fired head coach Bob Boughner.
The Sunday decision came after the conclusion of yet another Panthers season in which they did not make the playoffs. Boughner, coach of the club for two seasons, failed to make the playoffs in either one.
Assistant coach Paul McFarland was also sent packing.
“We made a tough decision today and have relieved Bob Boughner of his duties as head coach,” Panthers general manager Dale Tallon said. “We didn’t meet expectations this season and share responsibility for that fact. After careful evaluation, we have determined that this is a necessary first step for our young team and we will seek to identify a transformative, experienced head coach with Stanley Cup pedigree to lead our team going forward. We’re grateful to Bob, Paul and their families for their hard work and their dedication to the Panthers organization and we wish them the best of luck in their future endeavors.”
In Boughner’s first season with Florida, the Panthers missed the dance by a point. This time around, the team was off by a dozen points despite some offensive firepower.
Aleksander Barkov had a 96-point season, setting both a career-best and franchise-best total in the process. The 23-year-old had 35 goals and 61 assists, complete with a dazzling 13 goals on the power play.
The Panthers had three players score 30 or more goals, in fact. Jonathan Huberdeau had 30 on the button, while Mike Hoffman led the team in goal-scoring with 36. Evgenii Dadonov had 28 goals and a total of 70 points.
Altogether, the offensive prowess of Florida should’ve netted better results. They scored 264 goals, 20 above the league average. But they allowed 273 goals against and that permeable approach to defence put them in trouble on many nights.
Roberto Luongo, playing in perhaps his last season, still put in 40 starts and collected 18 wins. James Reimer started 29 games and won 13, posting a save percentage of .900 and a goals against average of 3.09.
In the end, however, something had to change for the Florida Panthers and that generally starts with coaching. With so many head coaches available, there’s hope for this young team that something or someone could materialize this summer to help the squad take that extra step.
As of now, Florida’s missed the playoffs 16 times in the last 18 tries.
(Photo credit: NHL)