The San Jose Sharks are looking for a brand new start, and they’re wiping the slate clean for whomever is tasked with filling Doug Wilson’s shoes as general manager. Bob Boughner was informed late last night that he will no longer serve as head coach of the Sharks, per Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman. One year remained on Boughner’s contract with the Sharks.
Not sure what’s happening with GM search in SJ, but it appears that the Sharks have made a coaching change. Word late last night was Bob Boughner was informed he will not be returning.— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) July 1, 2022
It’s a full coaching overhaul, as Boughner’s support staff of Dan Darrow, John Madden and John MacLean were also let go.
As Friedman notes in a follow-up tweet, the move comes rather late in the off-season. Not only were the coaching staff informed in the late hour ahead of a long holiday weekend (in both the US and Canada, at that), but at this point in the off-season, there is only one NHL head coaching vacancy remaining — the Winnipeg Jets. Eight other head coaching positions have already been filled this off-season. Regardless of Boughner’s lack of success with the team, and the lack of front office direction, the timing feels especially and needlessly cruel.
But with a search still on-going for a general manager, the organization lacks a road map, and having an incumbent coaching staff is a hard sell for a team that has missed playoffs for three consecutive seasons under said staff’s tenure. Reports also indicate that the Sharks are going to select a first-time general manager (Mike Grier and Ray Whitney are among the finalists for the role), a risk that can be somewhat mitigated by giving them the best chance to succeed, and frankly, Boughner hasn’t shown he can be it.
Over the last three seasons, the Sharks have posted a 67-85-23 record under Boughner, missing playoffs for the longest streak in franchise history. He previously was head coach of the Florida Panthers, who also missed playoffs in both seasons under his staff. His coaching career began in Canadian Juniors, where he led the Windsor Spitfires to consecutive Memorial Cup titles (2009, 2010). He was also named the CHL’s Coach of the Year twice (2008, 2009).
He had a decade-long NHL career, playing as a defender for the Buffalo Sabres, Nashville Predators, Pittsburgh Penguins, Calgary Flames, Carolina Hurricanes and Colorado Avalanche between 1995 and 2006. Boughner never won the Stanley Cup as a player, coming as close as the Eastern Conference Final in 2001, where the Penguins lost to the New Jersey Devils.
So the search is on, not only for a new general manager (which has been underway since early April), but for a whole new coaching staff. Waiting until this late in the off-season means the Sharks couldn’t hop on the brief availability of Bruce Cassidy, or the several coaches released early in the off-season. Will their first-year GM be paired with a first-year coaching staff?
Sharks interim general manager Joe Will said the following in a release:
“As we progress through our search for the next general manager of the Sharks following 19 seasons under Doug Wilson’s leadership, it has become apparent that the organization is in the process of an evolution. The bottom line is we have missed the playoffs for the past three seasons, which isn’t acceptable to our owner, our organization, or to our fans. As part of this evolution and evaluation, we felt it was in the best interest of the club to allow the next Sharks general manager to have full autonomy related to the make-up of the on-ice coaching staff moving ahead.
“I want to thank Bob, John, John and Dan for their dedication and commitment to the Sharks organization. The past two-plus seasons have been extremely challenging — on and off the ice — and Bob and his staff worked admirably under some very difficult circumstances. This change is not an indictment of their performance as much as it is a recognition of the complete organizational reset that we feel is in the best interest of the team at this point.”