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Panthers fire Boughner, seek ‘transformative’ coach

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The Florida Panthers fired head coach Bob Boughner on Sunday, not long after the 2018-19 season ended. The team also parted ways with assistant Paul McFarland.

GM Dale Tallon’s quote in the press release won’t exactly cut off speculation about interest in Joel Quenneville, as the phrase “transformative, experienced head coach with Stanley Cup pedigree” sure seems … on the nose? On the ‘stache?

“We made a tough decision today and have relieved Bob Boughner of his duties as head coach,” 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.”

The Athletic’s George Richards reports that the Panthers want to talk to Quenneville “officially.” Hmm, interesting.

Tallon’s already called his shot about Florida aiming for the fences when it comes to using cap room, with many wondering if the Panthers might target both Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky if the two prominent Blue Jackets indeed make it to free agency.

“We’ll be very aggressive after the season,” Tallon said on Feb. 25, via the Panthers’ website. “We have lots of room now. We have lots of picks. We’ll turn this into a positive thing. We had some bunt singles, to scratch and claw to improve our organization on a daily basis, and then we’ll eventually hit the home run.”

The idea of getting Quenneville and big free agents is alluring, and could represent a symbiotic relationship: getting Quenneville might make those free agents more willing to buy into Florida being legitimate as a contender, while potentially landing big names could make Florida a more desirable destination. This is a huge letdown for Boughner, of course, but it sets the stage for maybe the most interesting summer for the Panthers … ever?

Boughner, 48, coached the Panthers for two seasons. They were unable to make the 2018 or 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, with Boughner compiling a 79-62-22 record as Florida’s head coach. Considering some of the high-end talent on the Panthers’ roster, it was fair to wonder why the team couldn’t put it all together. If you believe that the Panthers underachieved because of Boughner, then you’re likely in favor of this decision.

Still, two seasons isn’t exactly a long leash for a coach, and this organization’s continued to change course. Richards points out that Jonathan Huberdeau is set to play for his sixth coach, and the 25-year-old has only played in the NHL for seven seasons.

The Panthers appear primed to go bold, and sadly that has already cost people jobs.

More on the Panthers

Is there an easy fix for their woes?

Why they were smart not to tear apart their roster at the trade deadline.

A look at their struggles back in November.

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Islanders fire head coach Scott Gordon, promote AHL coach Jack Capuano on interim basis

While the Islanders started off the year successfully, things have gone downhill of late and fast. With the team currently mired in a ten-game losing streak something had to give, and it turns out that it was head coach Scott Gordon would have to be the guy to take the fall. This morning, the Islanders fired Gordon as coach of the Islanders. Gordon will stay with the organization as an adviser. Meanwhile, the Islanders have brought on Jack Capuano, head coach of their AHL affiliate in Bridgeport, to fill in on an interim basis.

It may not seem right, but when a team is locked in a streak where they’ve gone 0-9-1 in their last ten games and have had both suspect goaltending and virtually no offense to show for it, Gordon was the guy that would be made an example out of. The key injuries the team has dealt with to Kyle Okposo and Mark Streit couldn’t be used as excuses any longer. While the Islanders had been competitive in their losses recently with many one and two-goal losses, their 5-1 thumping at the hands of the Kings on Saturday night was the last straw.

During their 10-game streak, the team has scored just 14 goals and have been shutout just once. Meanwhile, defensively they’ve allowed 39 goals over that span. It’s tough to be hard on goaltender Dwayne Roloson who has, at times, played spectacularly but the team is missing a lot on defense and both Roloson and highly-struggling Rick DiPietro have suffered because of it. Not having Okposo and Streit, while also having Josh Bailey’s scoring completely disappear, have helped kill the Isles’ ability to score goals and stay in games.

One thing Scott Gordon couldn’t help, however, is the team he was given to coach. The Islanders were a thin team to start the year and the handful of injuries they’ve had to deal with this year exposed this horribly. Without Streit, Milan Jurcina, and Andrew MacDonald the Isles defense is a mess. Then again, you could say they were a mess already when having to rely on guys like that to try and become a playoff team. Gordon ends up paying the ultimate price for the failings of Garth Snow and Charles Wang to spend wisely to get better talent on the Island.

If this is the shakeup the Isles needed to get right, then that’s great. Jack Capuano hasn’t been doing so hot in the AHL however and with him coming in and bringing a similar system to play with, it’s tough to see how things get better any time soon for the Isles. The best medicine in the meantime for the Isles might come on Wednesday when they play a struggling Lightning team back at Nassau Coliseum.