As the Florida Panthers continue their yearly goal of disappointing their fan base, many have begun calling for the heads.
With a team as talented as this there is certainly a case to be made for a switch. With that being said, let’s take a look at the job security of Boughner and Tallon.
Let’s take a quick flashback to the day Bob Boughner was introduced as the coach of the Florida Panthers and why he was hired in the first place.
While announcing the new coaching hire, Tallon described Boughner as someone who “see’s the game in a modern way and is eager to work with our young players” and raved of his meticulous preparation and hockey IQ.
As a former NHL defenseman himself, the Panthers were excited about their new defensively minded coach.
Adding Boughner’s previous history of developing young NHL talent in the minor leagues such as Taylor Hall, Ryan Ellis, and Cam Fowler, during his time as Windsor Spitfires head coach, the Panthers felt confident they had a coach whose attributes reflected what the team was searching for.
Simply, Boughner was brought into the organization for his defensive ideologies, his ability to manage and grow young talent, and his modern take on the game of hockey.
Flash forward to present day and the irony hits you in the mouth harder than Boughner’s golden boy Micheal Haley ever could. Nothing screams “modern day hockey” like playing an enforcer who has 12 points in 96 games.
Of course, playing Haley shouldn’t alone get him fired, however Boughner has struggled to find consistent line combinations during his tenure as bench boss with both defensive pairings and forward groups, which hints that he may not be as forward thinking as promised.
As for his contributions to the Panthers defense, the numbers speak for themselves. The Cats currently have a goals against average of 3.36 and a goal differential of -22. They also give up significant scoring opportunities in front of the net and have for the past two seasons.
It doesn’t bode well for Boughner that with defensemen such as Aaron Ekblad, All-Star Keith Yandle, and a young, up and coming player like Mike Matheson that this defensive minded coach is unable to maintain any sort of consistency from his defensive groups or help develop them further.
As much as I feel that Boughner has not been up to appropriate standards, he has a few things going for him that should keep his job safe, at least for the remainder of the season.
For one, the Panthers also struggled during the first half of the season, then produced 56 points in the final 41 games of the season.
This current Panther team has also been missing forwards Nick Bjugstad and Vincent Trocheck for a significant portion of the season and have just received the two back, with it resulting in two straight victories.
Possibly the main reason Boughner will not be replaced during the season is how poorly the Panthers handled the last in season coaching change, which infamously ended in Gerard Gallant riding into the sunset in the back seat of a taxi.
Which leads us to the next topic: should Dale Tallon be on the hot seat?
The Tallon era in Florida started during the 2010-11 season and through the first five years, he had done an objectively good job.
The Panthers made the playoffs in the 2011-12 season and a second time during 2015-16, a feature that the Panthers had not experienced for a decade prior to his arrival.
Not only did Tallon bring the Panthers to a competitive position, he had done so with young, talented players like Aleksander Barkov, Vincent Trocheck, and Jonathan Huberdeau – who were all drafted by Tallon and are now the faces of the franchise.
Everything seemed to be looking up for the Cats until the 2016-17 season when ownership began making significant player and personnel changes in the name of analytics.
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Ownership’s experimental phase started with kicking Tallon upstairs, going from general manager to president of hockey operations.
He was replaced by Tom Rowe who would eventually also act as interim head coach as ownership also fired Coach of the Year and future Stanley Cup finalist, Gerard Gallant.
Quality coaches are difficult to find in the NHL and if your ownership decides to send a quality coach away, there are going to be some hiccups in your short term plans.
The Panthers crashed and burned during that season under Rowe and the team reappointed Tallon to GM during the offseason.
I believe the “computer boy” phase is more so to blame for this team’s current state of misery than the actions of Dale Tallon.
However, he has certainly earned skepticism by allowing Jonathan Marchessault and Riley Smith to walk during the expansion draft, which was not only stupid then but has only gotten progressively dumber as the two of them light it up in Vegas with former coach Gerard Gallant.
Because of the strong second half of the last season and the missteps of previous in-season changes, I feel that Boughner’s position is safe for at least the rest of the season.
In regards to Dale Tallon, I don’t believe he has been poor enough to can. He has dealt with some major overreach that was out of his control and has still managed to put together a talented roster.
As far as this team is concerned, they have way more to worry about than to add “hire another general manager” to their plate.