SAN JOSE – Day four of Sharks training camp brought with it increased special teams work, especially the penalty kill, as assistant coach Bob Boughner slowly walked two separate groups through the team’s system in a pair of practices.
The Sharks consider themselves fortunate that Boughner is still here on Pete DeBoer’s staff, after he was a finalist for the head coaching job in Colorado. Patrick Roy resigned the post on August 11, and the Avalanche eventually hired Jared Bednar on August 25, but not before giving serious consideration to the man who oversees the Sharks’ defense and PK.
“[Boughner] was a big part of our success as a D-corps last year [with] his ability to teach, his ability to understand as a former player certain situations,” Brenden Dillon said. “I think from top to bottom, our defense really enjoyed having him [on the bench], and are happy to have him back.”
Colorado needed permission to interview Boughner, 45, as he is still under contract with San Jose. Considering how late it was in the offseason, it would have been understandable had the Sharks been reluctant to allow one of their coaches to potentially bolt for a Western Conference rival.
DeBoer and general manager Doug Wilson, though, allowed Boughner to pursue what would have been his first head coaching job in the NHL. Joe Sakic, the Avs’ general manager, played with Boughner for two seasons in Colorado.
“Pete and Doug were very supportive through the whole process, and even though the timing was pretty sensitive and being close to camp, I don’t think a lot of teams would have done what they did for me,” Boughner said. “I interviewed for their staff, and again, the process probably went a little longer than we thought, but Doug was real supportive in giving me that opportunity.”
DeBoer said: “It was important to both me and Doug that Bob had earned the right to be interviewed. My mind, he should have been one of the leading candidates, and he [was]. My conversations with Bob were just about how obviously we would sorely miss him, but I was really hoping that he would get a chance because I think he is a head coach in this league.”
The Sharks’ success last season under an entirely new coaching staff clearly increased Boughner’s profile. Brent Burns’ improved game, in particular, is a credit to Boughner, and Burns sang the coach’s praises whenever he was asked about his monster season.
Paul Martin, Burns’ partner, saw firsthand the effect that Boughner had with the free-spirited Wookkie.
“I think it was just a big contrast from [former Sharks assistant coach] Jim Johnson to Bob, just the way that they ran practice or did video. More so, he let Brent play more,” Martin said.
It could just be a matter of time before Boughner is running the show somewhere else.
“I think that’s the first of a lot of opportunities that are going to come his way,” DeBoer said.
Martin said: “He definitely has the pedigree, and the passion for the game.”
Prior to joining the Sharks, the 10-year NHL veteran was the head coach of the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires for eight seasons, leading them to a Memorial Cup championship in 2009 and 2010. He was named as the OHL/CHL coach of the year in 2008 and 2009, and was an assistant coach with the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2010-11.