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Preview/Lines #44: Boughner on What He Learned Coaching Panthers

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Credit: NBC Sports California

WELCOME GUEST WRITER KAT PITRE! KAT CURRENTLY COVERS THE SAN JOSE SHARKS AT FEAR THE FIN AND HOSTS THE “THIS IS HOCKEY CULTURE” PODCAST. 

The Florida Panthers and San Jose Sharks have a lot in common: Being in a sunny state, Joe Thornton, and of course, Bob Boughner.

Boughner’s first head coaching gig in the NHL began in the 2017/18 season for the Panthers, after having spent the prior season behind the bench in an assistant role for the Sharks. After 2019, Boughner returned to the Sharks as an assistant coach again, eventually taking on the mantle of interim head coach later that same year. Boughner was named the Sharks’ head coach officially in September 2020.

This game marks Boughner’s first time back in the Sunshine State in a head coaching capacity. The return has been a long time coming, and there’s plenty to look back on, particularly what Boughner learned from his time in Florida that he’s brought to the Sharks’ organization.

“What I’ve learned from experience, I think, is that the longer you go in, the more experience you get, you deal with situations differently, and you learn from your past. I think I’ve done that, whether it’s through player development or discussions with players, refining meanings, being better adjusting on the fly, dealing with management and ownership, and all those things. There’s a lot of things that you pick up, but it’s a special place for me,” said Boughner.

Boughner still has a figurative place in Florida: “I own a house here, and it was a place I really enjoyed working and just, it’s a great community and being able to live down in South Florida.”

Ever since Boughner’s first introduction to the Sharks as an assistant coach in 2015, the players have seen him evolve into the coach he is today.

“Definitely you can see a difference. Even when he came back as an assistant the second time, you can see that he was different just in a way to approach games,” said Brent Burns.

One of those differences Burns has noticed?

“I always told him he was kind of our lawyer, before always blaming the forwards and now he gets on the D,” the big-bearded defenseman quipped. “So I say he’s turning to the prosecutor against us a little bit.”

Assistant coaches have a different role in the locker room than a head coach, and Burns has noticed that change in Boughner as well as he’s settled into his position.

“I think the assistants are, they’re always there to make sure guys are feeling good, knowing their roles, knowing what’s going on. And as a head coach, you have to be a little harder on guys, more of a full view picture,” said Burns.

San Jose Sharks captain Logan Couture had some perspective to share on how exactly Boughner has learned from his time as an assistant coach and what that looks like off the ice.

“It was different when he was an assistant coach, but those years I thought he was great for our back end. Assistant coaches almost have a different role than a head coach. Most of the time they’re more personal and you talk to them more, but I think Boughner kind of kept that as a head coach,” Couture shared. “He’s a player-coach, he understands the mood of the room, what guys need, whether we need a day off or we need a hard day’s work.”

San Jose Sharks (22-19-2)

The San Jose Sharks have slipped in the standings, which may prompt some changes in the lineup, especially given players potentially returning from the Injured Reserve, although we’ll see how the Sharks line up ahead of puck drop. Here’s the projected lineup for tonight’s early evening game.

Florida Panthers (30-9-5)

The Panthers are sitting comfortably at the top of the Atlantic Division, and have won their past two games. Per the Daily Faceoff, this is how the Florida’s lines may stack up against the Sharks.

Verhaeghe – Barkov – Tippett
Huberdeau – Bennett – Duclair
Marchment – Lundell – Reinhart
Lomberg – Luostarinen – Thornton

Weegar – Ekblad
Forsling – Gudas
Carlsson – Montour

Bobrovsky

However, head coach Andrew Brunette has confirmed that Thornton is playing, so we’ll see where he lines up.

Where to watch

Puck drop between the Florida Panthers and San Jose Sharks is at 3:00 PM PT at the FLA Live Arena. Watch it live on ESPN+, Bally Sports Florida, and NBC Sports California. Listen to it on the Sharks Audio Network

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