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Boughner’s ‘passion knocked us out of the park’ during interview, says Panthers GM

SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) Bob Boughner believes that he’s ready to finally be an NHL head coach.

The Florida Panthers agree.

Boughner is Florida’s new coach, introduced at a news conference Monday afternoon. The former NHL defenseman becomes the 15th coach in the franchise’s 24-year history, and its fifth since 2011.

General manager Dale Tallon said Boughner sees the game in a modern way and is the right leader to get the Panthers back toward competing for the Stanley Cup. Tallon said Boughner blew away the team with his interview late last month.

“Of all the interviews and of all the people, Bob Boughner impressed us like no one else,” Tallon said. “All the years I’ve been in the business interviewing coaches, firing coaches, meeting coaches, Bob was the most prepared and his performance, his preparation, his passion knocked us out of the park.”

Read more: Boughner ‘definitely ready’ to become an NHL head coach

Boughner spent the last two seasons as an assistant coach in San Jose under former Panthers coach Peter DeBoer, who said the Sharks hate to lose him given his contributions.

“This is a terrific opportunity for Bob to become a head coach in the National Hockey League and one that he deserves,” Sharks general manager Doug Wilson said.

Boughner is the fifth coach to be hired since the regular season ended, a list that includes the Vegas Golden Knights choosing Gerard Gallant as their first coach. Gallant was fired by the Panthers early this past season, getting replaced by then-general manager Tom Rowe. But Florida never found the same form it had a year ago on the way to the Atlantic Division title, and missed the playoffs by 14 points.

That led to the Panthers going back to what has worked in the past: Tallon squarely in charge again as general manager, and his first major move of the offseason is bringing in a 46-year-old — he shared the ice with Panthers free agent forward Jaromir Jagr both as a teammate and an opponent — to take over a team that believes it should be right back in the playoff mix next spring.

“I’ve been a player, I’ve been an owner, I’ve been an executive, I’ve been a head coach, an assistant coach,” Boughner said. “I know this league and I know the game and I’m ready for this challenge.”

Boughner’s only previous experience as a head coach came in the Ontario Hockey League with the Windsor Spitfires, over two stints spanning eight seasons. He led Windsor to a pair of Memorial Cups and he was twice selected as the OHL’s coach of the year. He also spent the 2010-11 season as an NHL assistant in Columbus.

He now takes over a team with a young core led by one of Windsor’s favorite natives – Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad, a 21-year-old who has already been an All-Star and is one of the biggest keys for Florida’s hopes over the next few seasons.

“I think we have a lot of great pieces here to build something special here in South Florida,” Boughner said. “Their setup here for the future is unbelievable.”

Boughner’s hiring follows a formula that the Panthers have used quite often in recent years: Bring in a coach who has never been in charge of an NHL team. Of the Panthers’ last six coaches, five – DeBoer, Kevin Dineen, Peter Horachek, Rowe and now Boughner – were not previously NHL coaches before getting the chance to take the reins in Florida.

For now, Boughner is one of only two true first-time coaches in the NHL. Vancouver’s Travis Green was hired in April, and he’s never before coached in any league higher than the AHL.

Tallon described Boughner as adaptable and willing to incorporate outside the box ideas into his coaching saying, “Don’t let the fact that he was a tough player fool you as far as the analytics and the style of play that we’re going to incorporate.”

Boughner played in 630 NHL games with Colorado, Carolina, Calgary, Pittsburgh, Nashville and Buffalo. He also played in the Panthers’ organization, though only in the minors and never actually appeared with Florida.

 

Pittsburgh to hold Stanley Cup parade on Wednesday

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The city of Pittsburgh continues to celebrate the Penguins’ second straight Stanley Cup championship.

On Monday, the city announced details for the Penguins’ Stanley Cup parade, which will take place Wednesday morning.

Here are details of the route, from WTAE:

The parade route will follow a similar route as the parades in 2009 and 2016. This year, it will end at Point State Park.

The route will begin on Grant Street at Liberty Avenue, travel along Grant Street to the Boulevard of the Allies, turn right onto the Boulevard of the Allies, turn right onto Commonwealth Place and will end at the intersection of Penn Avenue and Commonwealth Place, at the entrance of Point State Park.

Last year, a crowd of 400,000 people lined the streets of Pittsburgh to take in the parade following the Penguins’ six-game Stanley Cup victory over San Jose.

The Penguins defeated the Nashville Predators on Sunday to win the title once again.

Related: Video: Crosby parades Cup through streets of Pittsburgh

Report: Fleury accepted Penguins request to waive no-movement clause

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One of the lasting images of Marc-Andre Fleury in a Penguins uniform may be him passing the Stanley Cup to Matt Murray during Sunday’s celebration in Nashville.

Fleury’s future with the Penguins has been up for discussion for well over a year now, although general manager Jim Rutherford decided leading up to this year’s trade deadline to keep the veteran goalie in Pittsburgh for the playoff run.

It turned out to be a shrewd move.

Fleury backstopped the Penguins through the opening two rounds of the playoffs, before Murray returned from injury and eventually regained the starting duties in the Eastern Conference Final.

However, teams can only protect one goalie in the expansion draft. And despite a no-movement clause in his contract, Fleury’s time in Pittsburgh may be coming to an end.

Per Renaud Lavoie of TVA Sports, Fleury had accepted a request all the way back in February to waive his no-movement clause for the expansion draft later this month — but only for Las Vegas.

With Vegas needing a capable starting goalie, Fleury has been discussed as a potential option for that role with the Golden Knights. There are also other teams out there in need of goaltending. Teams like the Flames and perhaps even the Flyers, and Fleury may provide an option for them, as well.

Now 32 years old, Fleury posted a 18-10-7 record this past season. He also had a save percentage of .909, which is slightly below his career average. But he was, for the most part, solid for the Penguins in the playoffs with Murray sidelined.

He had nine of Pittsburgh’s 16 wins and a .924 save percentage before Mike Sullivan decided to go back to the younger Murray versus Ottawa. Despite becoming the No. 2 goalie again, Fleury was the “best team player in all of sports,” said Rutherford last night.

Fleury has two more years remaining on his contract, which has an annual cap hit of $5.75 million.

Report: Senators ask Phaneuf to waive no-movement clause

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And so it begins.

The Ottawa Senators have reportedly asked defenseman Dion Phaneuf to waive his no-movement clause, which could then expose him in the Vegas expansion draft later this month.

That is according to TSN and hockey insider Pierre LeBrun on Monday, which is deadline day for teams to request that a player waive their no-movement clause ahead of the expansion draft.

Players with no-movement clauses are automatically protected — unless they choose to waive that.

Senators general manager Pierre Dorion didn’t rule out the possibility of this happening when he met with reporters following the Eastern Conference Final.

“If we ever end up losing a defenseman, we know we have guys that can come in and replace him,” said Dorion at the time. “I’m not sure. There’s a lot of discussions to be had. If ever we were to go that direction, I think I should let Dion know first.”

Phaneuf, 32, enters the fourth year of his seven-year, $49 million contract. Per TSN, the veteran blue liner has yet to make a decision. He had nine goals and 30 points in 81 regular season games.

Teams have until 5 p.m. ET on Saturday to submit their protection lists.

Penguins favored to win Stanley Cup next year

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The Pittsburgh Penguins are the first team to repeat as Stanley Cup champions in the NHL’s salary cap era. Now, can they accomplish a three-peat?

Not even 24 hours after defeating the Nashville Predators in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final, clinching back-to-back championships, the Penguins have been listed as the favorites to win it all in 2018.

Their most recent opponent, the Predators, are further down the list at 14/1 to win the Stanley Cup next year.

From Bovada:

Pittsburgh Penguins               9/1
Chicago Blackhawks             12/1
Edmonton Oilers                   12/1
Tampa Bay Lightning           12/1
Washington Capitals             12/1
Anaheim Ducks                      14/1
Nashville Predators               14/1
Dallas Stars                             16/1
Minnesota Wild                      16/1
Montreal Canadiens              16/1
New York Rangers                 16/1
Toronto Maple Leafs             16/1
Los Angeles Kings                 18/1
Columbus Blue Jackets        20/1
San Jose Sharks                     22/1
St. Louis Blues                       28/1
Boston Bruins                        33/1
Calgary Flames                      33/1
Ottawa Senators                    33/1
Florida Panthers                    40/1
New York Islanders               40/1
Philadelphia Flyers                40/1
Winnipeg Jets                         40/1
Arizona Coyotes                      66/1
Buffalo Sabres                         66/1
Carolina Hurricanes              66/1
Detroit Red Wings                 66/1
Colorado Avalanche               75/1
New Jersey Devils                  75/1
Vancouver Canucks                75/1
Vegas Golden Knights         150/1

It would definitely be a mountainous task to win three consecutive Stanley Cups. It hasn’t happened since the early 1980s, when the New York Islanders won four straight, before the Edmonton Oilers won five of the next seven. 

The Penguins should certainly be a contender next year in the Eastern Conference. Core star players Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel and Kris Letang are all locked into long-term contracts, and the first three aforementioned talents finished in the top three in playoff scoring this year.

Letang missed the playoffs due to neck surgery, but he could also be ready to go for the beginning of next season.

There is still plenty of work and plenty of decisions ahead for Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford. In addition to a decision on the future of goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, Pittsburgh has 12 players on expiring contracts, including seven pending unrestricted free agents and five pending restricted free agents. The latter category includes notables Conor Sheary, Brian Dumoulin and Justin Schultz.

Related: Bargains in Murray, Guentzel could extend Penguins’ contending window