After a long summer off from the scenes of hockey, Florida Panthers bench boss Bob Boughner is eager and ready to start the new season.
In an interview with Joe Rose from 560 WQAM Sports Radio, Bob Boughner phoned in and discussed his excitement for the upcoming year, what he would’ve done differently last season, how he’s expected to manage goaltender Roberto Luongo at his current age, and more!
Fresh off a few vacations from Turks and Caicos, Windsor (Ontario), and Nashville (Tennessee), Bob Boughner’s batteries are officially recharged, as he’s now back in his office preparing for the upcoming season.
"“That’s the big question coming into camp,” Boughner said. “They’re definitely going to get an opportunity. We need to keep getting faster, keep getting younger. We’re on that cusp now that guys on the team have seen what we can do.“In the second half, we realized that looking back on the first half that there were some things that we needed to do and I think that’s going to leave a bad taste in their mouths, but when they come back, I’ve already spoken to some guys around the room [training room] from here and they’re anxious to get going and trying to get back to where we finished.”"
Boughner’s thoughts on the new season? It was quite hard for the Windsor native to hide his excitement in this particular interview, jumping straight to the acquisitions that were made in the offseason and how the core is still intact.
"“I’m excited and, I mean, we made a couple of offseason acquisitions [Hoffman] and we’re a little bit of a different team but for the most part we got the core of the team and I think that can only help us when we talk Xs and Os and the systems and getting ready for the season.”"
Of course, Joe just had to get a Luongo question in this dialogue, but to be fair, who wouldn’t? It’s Luongo we’re talking about, the netminder who joined Hall of Famers Martin Brodeur and Patrick Roy in achieving 1,000 games played at the NHL level.
The question, however, was how Boughner was going to manage Roberto Luongo at his current age and state.
"“Definitely have to pay attention to that [age], that’s a big thing for us,” he said. “Obviously when he got hurt first half of last year we went on a bit of a tail-spin and Reims [Reimer] and Sateri did a great job coming in.“Anyone losing their No. 1 goaltender for 40 games knows that they’re in trouble, so… the key is to keep him healthy, to manage his games [obviously will do that]. I just saw him [Lu] in the weight room 20 minutes ago, he looked good, he feels good, and he’s already on the ice here. He’s been on since the middle of July so that’s the key.”"
Boughner continued by praising Luongo’s work rate and commitment to being in the best of shape for the upcoming season:
"“Lu is such a pro, he takes care of his body, and he’s really concentrating on staying healthy this year and you never know when his last year is going to be. He’s the backbone of our team and he wants to get in the playoffs so bad and enjoy that feeling so I’m excited for him because I know he’s worked hard this summer.”"
Looking back last season, if there’s one thing coach Boughner could’ve done differently, it’s…
"“I wish I separated the big line earlier. It seems like after we did that [putting Huberdeau with Trocheck] and that’s one of the biggest changes.“You look back and say, ‘did I wait too long?’ I thought a couple of guys would be ready to play with Troch up there and it isn’t an indictment to those guys, it’s just that in their career, where their development line is, they just weren’t ready to take that role and the minute we switched, we got better and I look back as a coach and say, ‘hey, we could’ve made that change earlier,’ but for the most part it took a while for the guys to adapt to the system I brought in and learn to trust it and trust everything, so that was just a process we had to go through.”"
The Boughner system? What’s going to change going into year #2 and do players understand it better now?
"“At the end of the season as coaches, we took inventory and said, ‘okay, what worked, what didn’t work, is there anything we want to change?’ And then we concentrated and watched the NHL playoffs and we broke down a lot of stuff during the playoffs, and there are a couple of minor things we want to do.“We want to tighten up defensively, you look at our stats and the analytics from last year, we allowed too many shots and our goals against [GA] can get better, so we’re going to tweak our defensive zone coverage, not a crazy change, but just something to make it a little tighter.“We’re good at scoring goals, heavy on the forecheck, good in the neutral zone, and our special teams came on during the end of the year so there’s a lot of things happening, but as a coach you always have to do that and make sure you’re tightening all the time.”"
"“Well, I don’t think you’re far off [in terms of Barkov], the one thing again with Barky and Trochy [Trocheck] is looking back and saying, ‘geez, we played these guys so much,’ and Troch has such a big engine and he can go, and Barky is a bigger guy so managing those guys a little earlier in the season and not trying to overuse those guys is only going to help our team.“So I think, yea, he [Barkov] is going to have a good year because he’s going to have a couple of linemates now as if we start off with Dadonov and Bjugstad and how they played at the end of the year, now there’s some stability on that line and then you put Huberdeau, Trocheck, and the new guy Hoffman, I think that’s a heck of a top-six, so I’m looking for big things from Hoffman and then I’m hoping some of the younger guys can push and hoping Malgin can hit that next level and Vatrano can hit that next level.“McCann, I think there’s a little more to his game too, so when you start going through the lineup, there’s a lot of guys that can really help and one of the things that was our weakness last year was our depth on our third and fourth line and I think that’s going to be better this year with guys fighting for positions and challenging each other for jobs.”"
As you can see, Panther fans aren’t the only ones excited to get the new season rolling. HC Bob Boughner is among those who are not only ready to get the year started, but to also get the Cats back into postseason action!