Boughner out as Sharks head coach as ‘reset’ continues

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The San Jose Sharks aren’t just looking for a new GM; they also need a new head coach. The Sharks fired head coach Bob Boughner as part of sweeping changes to its coaching staff.

Along with Boughner, the Sharks fired assistants John Madden and John MacLean, while also firing video coach Dan Darrow.

Sharks will let next GM hire new head coach after firing Bob Boughner

Interim Sharks GM Joe Will explained that the team wanted to give their next GM “full autonomy” when it comes to their coaching staff.

“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,” Will said in the team’s release. “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.

One interesting additional line from Will was:

” … This change is not an indictment of their performance as much as it is a recognition of the complete organizational reset …”

It’s fair to wonder about Bob Boughner’s coaching future, though. After failing to make the playoffs during a two-season run with the Panthers, he also never coached a playoff game with an expensive Sharks team.

How much of the Sharks’ failures were really Boughner’s fault? That’s a difficult question to answer. But it’s easy to say that the team performed poorly during his run.

Could ‘complete organizational reset’ mean a Sharks rebuild?

How primed, really, are the Sharks for a true “complete organizational reset,” though?

Instead of making the sober (if painful) decision to trade Tomas Hertl, the Sharks signed him to a risky extension ($8.1375M cap hit through 2029-30).

The Sharks’ salary structure is saddled with some truly troubling deals. Marc-Edouard Vlasic is a perennial buyout candidate. Brent Burns is somehow already 37, and his $8M cap hit lasts for three more seasons. Erik Karlsson rebounded last season, yet there’s still a lot of distance between rebounding and being worth $11.5M per year. Logan Couture‘s contract and age are both sneaky-troubling.

If Hertl ends up aging poorly, well … add another bad contract to a huge heap. (That heap also includes the dead money of a Martin Jones buyout.)

A new GM would face a massive challenge. That’s especially true if the organization continues to be in rebuild-denial.

[What went wrong for the 2021-22 Sharks]

What do you do, for instance, with Timo Meier? He’s in a similar spot to where Hertl was. Meier, 25, enters a contract year with a $6M cap hit. He’s a pending RFA who would have salary arbitration rights.

Considering the direction of the Sharks, you’d think the play would be to trade Meier (as painful as that would be). Yet, following your history, the actual path might be to extend his contract and just hope that things work out, team-wide, when they haven’t been for years.

Whoever takes over as Sharks GM will need a big boat of ideas. Finding the right replacement for Sharks head coach with Boughner out would just be part of the equation.

With the 2022 NHL Draft drawing near, it would behoove the Sharks to actually pick that new GM soon, by the way.

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James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

Boughner out as Sharks head coach as ‘reset’ continues originally appeared on NBCSports.com