While the Sharks haven’t entirely committed to removing the interim tag from head coach Bob Boughner, it certainly seems as if they’re leaning in that direction. Speaking on a recent conference call, GM Doug Wilson told reporters, including Curtis Pashelka of The Mercury News that Boughner currently has the upper hand in the process but that they intend to do a thorough review once the season officially comes to an end.
Boughner was named as the interim bench boss back in December, taking over from Peter DeBoer (who took over as the head coach in Vegas barely a month later). While San Jose sits at the bottom of the standings in the West (they have a 14-20-3 record under Boughner after being 15-16-2 under DeBoer), Wilson felt there was some progress made in the second half of the year:
I was pleased to see some of the overall play improve over the last half of the year. There were times more often than not that we were playing the game the right way.
Of course, Boughner’s performance behind the bench this season isn’t the only reason that he is the frontrunner to get the job on a full-time basis. He spent two years as an assistant with the team (2015-16 and 2016-17) before joining Florida as their head coach and a good chunk of the core is still there and that familiarity certainly doesn’t hurt.
If he does eventually have the interim tag removed, a quick turnaround is going to be expected. The Sharks don’t have much in the way of salary cap flexibility to change their roster so the majority of their core will likely return.
Having fewer top players go down with injuries will certainly help in that regard and Wilson did have some positive news on that front. Center Tomas Hertl is well ahead of schedule in his recovery from knee surgery while defenseman Erik Karlsson (thumb) and center Logan Couture (concussion) are close to being fully healthy and could return if the season resumes at some point over the coming weeks and months.