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Boughner Is Back, but Who Will Coach Sharks Defense?



Bob Boughner, San Jose Sharks
Credit: NBCS Bay Area

Boogie on, Bob Boughner.

Per Pierre LeBrun, Boughner’s interim head coach tag will officially be taken off in the next week or two.

Of course, we’ve presumed this would be the case for some time.

The better question is, who will Boughner’s assistant coaches be?

It’s been reported that Rocky Thompson will be added to Boughner’s coaching staff. The presumption is that he’ll work with the forwards and the power play — San Jose Hockey Now has already written three articles on the subject:

Trevor Letowski on Rocky Thompson’s Analytical Bent

How Rocky Thompson’s AHL Coaching Stint Will Help Sharks

Watching Rocky Thompson’s PP Breakouts with an NHL Coach

But who will coach the San Jose Sharks defense?

As with all things, it might be who you know. Thompson, for example, was head coach of the 2017 Memorial Cup-winning Windsor Spitfires. The Spitfires owner? None other than Bob Boughner.

With that in mind — and allowing, of course, that the San Jose Sharks might hire outside of the box — here are some interesting Boughner-adjacent candidates to consider.

Roy Sommer

The connection with Bob is obvious here.

When Peter DeBoer was fired in December, Mike Ricci, Sommer, and Evgeni Nabokov were promoted to the NHL. Under interim head coach Bob Boughner, Ricci handled the forwards, Sommer the defense, and Nabokov the goaltending.

What was somewhat peculiar about this arrangement was career forward Sommer, better known for being the head coach of San Jose’s AHL affiliate for 22 years, had never specifically coached defensemen (at least in the last 22 years).

My guess, if Sommer stays in the NHL, he won’t be coaching the defense anymore.

Jack Capuano

Capuano is currently an associate coach for the Ottawa Senators and held the same role under Boughner in Florida, running the defensemen and the penalty kill.

However, going to San Jose would appear to be a lateral move for the former Islanders head coach.

Capuano, who’s still under contract with the Senators, confirmed himself to San Jose Hockey Now that he wouldn’t be going to San Jose.

Capuano added, however, that he enjoyed working with Boughner with the Panthers. Was there ever any conflict, considering both Boughner and Capuano come from a defensive background?

“He didn’t micro-manage me,” Capuano said. “He’s going to hire a guy that he has trust and faith in, who’s detail-oriented. A good teacher. And a good communicator, especially with Burns and Karlsson there.”

Bob Jones

Jones is also on head coach D.J. Smith’s staff in Ottawa.

Both Smith and Jones coached under Boughner in Windsor. Jones was Boughner’s associate coach with the Spitfires from 2011-15, before Boughner joined Peter DeBoer’s San Jose Sharks staff in 2015-16.

Obviously, Smith isn’t going anywhere right now. As mentioned, a move to San Jose would be a lateral move for Capuano. But Jones?

Jones is an assistant coach, but he’s currently in an “eye in the sky” role. He’s coached defensemen before — as recently as 2018-19, for the Texas Stars.

The 50-year-old has certainly paid his dues too: He began his coaching career in the OHL in 1995, was head coach of both the Spitfires and Oshawa Generals. He’s been in the AHL and the NHL for the last two years.

So directly handling the San Jose Sharks defense would certainly be a step up.

However, as far as I know, the Senators aren’t making any changes to their coaching staff at the moment.

Mike Weber

Weber has coached Windsor’s defensemen for the last three years under Trevor Letowski.

However, the 32-year-old might be too green to be considered for the NHL. The Spitfires are his first coaching gig. But perhaps there’s appeal in his youth.

Weber, who last played defense in the NHL in 2015-16 — and is actually younger than 35-year-old Brent Burns — should certainly be able to relate to today’s player.

Other Candidates

Admittedly, this is all speculation on my part.

It could be someone from the DeBoer tree who comes in to run the San Jose Sharks defense? Somebody who Karlsson, Burns, or Marc-Edouard Vlasic has a particular affinity for? Somebody that Hall of Fame defenseman Doug Wilson stumps for? Or somebody completely outside the box?

But we’ve pretty much known that Boughner and Nabokov are coming back for months. That Thompson was coming in.

But there’s one, possibly two more assistant coach gigs up for grabs in San Jose.

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