Panthers fire coach Bob Boughner, reportedly ‘close’ to hiring Joel Quenneville

The Panthers have decided to cut ties with Bob Boughner.

The team announced Sunday it fired its head coach two years after it hired him. Boughner still had one more year left on his contract.

Assistant coach Paul McFarland also was relieved of his duties.

“We made a tough decision (Sunday) and have relieved Bob Boughner of his duties as head coach,” general manager Dale Tallon said in a statement. “We didn’t meet expectations this season and share responsibility for that fact.

“After careful evaluation, we have determined that this is a necessary first step for our young team and we will seek to identify a transformative, experienced head coach with Stanley Cup pedigree to lead our team going forward. We’re grateful to Bob, Paul and their families for their hard work and their dedication to the Panthers organization and we wish them the best of luck in their future endeavors.”

According to Sportsnet, the Panthers already have started the hiring process and former Blackhawks and Blues coach Joel Quenneville is the top candidate to take over the team.

Per the report, the hiring of Quenneville isn’t a “done deal,” but the hiring could be happening very soon.

In his two seasons with Florida, Boughner went 79-62-22. This past season, the team went 36-32-14.

While the Panthers were solid on offense, their defense struggled throughout the season. The team ranked 28th out of 31 when it came to goals allowed.

As the Panthers’ season came to a close, the missed opportunity to go to the playoffs marks the 16th time in the past 18 seasons that Florida has not made the postseason.

The last time the Panthers won a playoff series was 1996. Since then, the Panthers have limped along in the league, with the 25-year-old team now on the hunt for its 16th coach in franchise history.