The Windsor Spitfires will have to pursue a third straight Memorial Cup title without president and head coach Bob Boughner.
According to a source close to the team, the 39-year-old Boughner will step down today to take an assistant coaching job with the National Hockey League's Columbus Blue Jackets.
The Columbus Dispatch is also reporting the hiring on its website. Calls to Boughner and Spitfires general manager Warren Rychel were not returned.
The Spitfires have called a 2 p.m. news conference today when associate head coach Bob Jones will be named the team’s new head coach, with assistant coach D.J. Smith assuming the associate coaching job, The Star has learned.
The club is expected to hire another assistant to take on Smith’s role before the start of the season.
The Spitfires have become one of junior hockey's elite clubs since Boughner purchased the team with Rychel and governor Peter Dobrich in February 2006.
Boughner retired after the 2005-06 season to take over behind the Windsor bench after playing parts of 10 seasons in the NHL with Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Nashville, Calgary, Carolina and Colorado.
After an 18-win campaign and 43 points in 68 games his first season in Windsor, the club had the most dramatic turnaround in franchise history with a 51-point gain in 2007-08, which earned Boughner Ontario Hockey League and Canadian Hockey League coach of the year honours.
He followed that up in 2008-09 with a club record 57 wins and 115 points, which is the third-highest total in league history.
Again he earned OHL and CHL coach of the year honours while guiding the club to its first Memorial Cup title. Windsor became the first team in tournament history to lose the first game and come through the tiebreaker to win the title.
This past season, the Spitfires won 50 games for just the third time in franchise history and became just the eighth team to win back-to-back Memorial Cup titles.
In his four seasons in Windsor, Boughner boasts a record of 166-80-10-16, along with a record of 33-11 in league playoff games and 8-3 at the Memorial Cup.
Boughner has just been named an assistant coach for Canada’s World Junior Hockey Championship entry next season, but will now have to give up that position.
He will become the third assistant coach hired by Blue Jackets head coach Scott Arniel.
He joins Brad Berry, who was Arniel’s assistant coach with the Manitoba Moose of the American Hockey League, and Dan Hinote, who played with Boughner as a member of the Colorado Avalanche during the 2005-06 season — Boughner’s last season in the NHL.
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