The last time Bob Boughner was in Sunrise for a Florida Panthers game, he was an assistant coach for the San Jose Sharks under Pete DeBoer back in 2019.
On the bus ride to the arena, DeBoer said he and Boughner — as well as then-assistant Dave Barr — pointed out landmarks they all remembered from their time with the Panthers.
“My coaches’ room is like a Florida Panthers’ coaching graveyard,” DeBoer cracked. “It is interesting we have all moved through here and everyone was pointing out on the ride here the neighborhoods where they lived at different points.
“And Boogie is still trying to sell his house.
“The one thing that is common is that all three of us have great memories of our time here. Some were longer than others, but none of them were as successful as we all wanted them to be. It was a great experience for all of us.”
Saturday night, Boughner is back in Sunrise as a head coach for the first time since Florida’s season-finale on April 6, 2019.
He did not know it at the time, but the Panthers had already come to an agreement with Joel Quenneville to take over the team and that Florida’s 4-3 overtime loss to the Devils would be his last as coach of the team.
Quenneville was officially hired the following day and introduced to South Florida two days after Boughner’s final game.
”What I have learned from that experience is the longer you go and the more experience you get, you deal with situations differently,” Boughner said on Friday.
“You learn from your past and I think I have done that. Whether it’s player development or dealing with players or refining meetings, being better at adjusting on the fly, dealing with management and ownership … there’s a lot of things you pick up.
”This is a special place for me. I owned a house here, it was a place I really enjoyed working and it’s great community. Being able to live in South Florida and be in the sports world, there’s not much better than that.”
Boughner, who spent two years as coach of the Panthers from 2017-19, replaced DeBoer when he was fired three days after the Sharks lost 5-1 in Sunrise that December.
First an interim coach, Boughner got the job full-time in 2020.
DeBoer quickly replaced former Florida coach Gerard Gallant — yeah, the Panthers have a lot of ex-coaches roaming around — in Las Vegas and was behind the bench Thursday night in a 4-1 loss to the Panthers.
Joe Thornton has not faced his former Sharks teammates since leaving as a free agent in 2020 as he spent last season with Toronto.
Thornton has only played ing four games for the Panthers this month and not since last week in Vancouver — but he returns to the lineup Saturday.
A former captain of the Sharks, Thornton spent 15 seasons in San Jose spanning 1,104 regular season games and 144 postseason contests.
Thornton, originally traded to the Sharks by the Bruins in 2005, Thornton left as San Jose’s leader in assists and was second in games and points.
He will have his No. 19 retired by San Jose soon enough.
“It’ll be interesting if he’s in the lineup to see him suit up against the Sharks, for sure,” Boughner said.
“There are a lot of good feelings for what he’s given to this organization. When you think about the San Jose Sharks, one of the first people you think about is Jumbo.”
San Jose defenseman Jaycob Megna will likely have a number of family members in the stands as he returns home to South Florida with the Sharks.
Megna is from Plantation but his parents Jay (a former defensive back for the Dolphins) and Jacqueline (All-American water polo player) moved to the Chicago area so their three children could advance their hockey and ice skating lives.
Jayson Megna plays for the Colorado Avalanche.
Megna’s uncle Paul is the athletic director at Cooper City High.
Boughner said former Panthers goalie James Reimer will start Saturday and could be back Sunday in Carolina.
Reimer was traded to the Hurricanes before the 2019 free agency market opened to clear up cap space — and allow the Panthers to sign Sergei Bobrovsky.
In three games since Florida dumped the final two years of his contract, Reimer is 3-0 against the Panthers with a 3.00 GAA and .892 save percentage.
— With Spencer Knight off to Charlotte, Bobrovsky will start at least two of the next three games before the Panthers take their two-week break.
FLORIDA PANTHERS ON DECK
SAN JOSE SHARKS AT FLORIDA PANTHERS
- When: Saturday, 6 p.m.
- Where: FLA Live Arena, Sunrise
- Tickets: CLICK HERE
- TV/Streaming: Bally Sports Florida
- Radio: WQAM 560-AM, SiriusXM
- NHL Betting Odds from BetUS: Florida favored (Money Line -320) — (Puck Line -1.5 -130) — Over/Under 6.5 (-105/-115)
- Last season: Did not play
- All-time regular season series: Florida leads 17-13-1, 7 ties
PROJECTED FLORIDA PANTHERS LINEUP
23 Carter Verhaeghe // 16 Sasha Barkov // 74 Owen Tippett
11 Jonathan Huberdeau // 8 Sam Bennett // 10 Anthony Duclair
17 Mason Marchment // 15 Anton Lundell // 13 Sam Reinhart
94 Ryan Lomberg // 19 Joe Thornton // 27 Eetu Luostarinen
52 MacKenzie Weegar // 5 Aaron Ekblad
42 Gus Forsling // 7 Radko Gudas
32 Lucas Carlsson // 62 Brandon Montour
72 Sergei Bobrovsky
35 Jonas Johansson
Scratched: Frank Vatrano, Patric Hornqvist, Olli Juolevi
Taxi squad: Chase Priskie
Injured: Noel Acciari (LTIR), Markus Nutivaara (LTIR), Maxim Mamin (IR)
PROJECTED SAN JOSE SHARKS LINEUP
76 Jonathan Dahlen // 39 Logan Couture // 28 Timo Meier
92 Rudolfs Balcers // 48 Tomas Hertl // 94 Alexander Barabanov
11 Andrew Cogliano // 13 Nick Bonino // 83 Matthew Nitto
42 Jonah Gadjovich // 26 Jasper Weatherby // 73 Noah Gregor
38 Mario Ferraro // 88 Brent Burns
44 Marc-Edouard Vlasic // 51 Radim Simek
24 Jaycob Megna // 53 Nicolas Meloche
47 James Reimer
33 Adin Hill