Panthers fire coach Boughner after 2 seasons

The Florida Panthers have fired coach Bob Boughner after two seasons behind the bench and no playoff appearances.

A 4-3 loss to the Devils on Saturday night finished a 36-32-14 season. The Panthers ended up fifth in the Atlantic Division and 12 points out of the final wild-card spot.

“We made a tough decision today and have relieved Bob Boughner of his duties as head coach,” Panthers general manager Dale Tallon said in a statement. “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 the them best of luck in their future endeavors.”

The Panthers also fired assistant coach Paul McFarland.

Boughner, a former NHL defenseman, got the Panthers job after the team parted ways with Gerard Gallant and finished the 2016-17 season with interim coach Tom Rowe. Boughner, 48, didn’t have prior head-coaching experience in the NHL. He won the Memorial Cup twice as coach of the Windsor Spitfires of the OHL.

Gallant landed with the expansion Vegas Golden Knights and took them to the Stanley Cup Finals in their first season and to another playoff berth this season.

Boughner went 43-30-8 in his first season but missed the playoffs by one point.

This season, the Panthers wasted a big season by Aleksander Barkov, who set a club record with 96 points. The Panthers had three 30-goal scorers but finished with a minus-13 goal differential.

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