When Bob Boughner comes to Buffalo, he usually takes a minute to go past the spot where Memorial Auditorium stood.
He remembers playing the last year in the old Aud and moving a few blocks to the new arena. And one of the things he remembers are the banners.
"I've always loved coming back here. It's sort of where it all started," Boughner said. "Every time I go by the open area where the Aud used to be, I remember taking the banners down the last game and putting them back up here. There are a lot of good memories about being a Buffalo Sabre."
Boughner, now the head coach of the Florida Panthers, was part of one of those banners, playing for the Sabres in the 1996-97 season when they won the Northeast Division.
The defenseman played in parts of three seasons with the Sabres, who acquired him on Feb. 1, 1996 in exchange for a draft pick from the Florida Panthers. Two days later, he made his NHL debut with Buffalo. He recorded no points but picked up 12 penalty minutes.
That was par for the course with Boughner who played in 177 games with the Sabres recording 13 points with 484 penalty minutes.
He's fighting different battles these days, ones to help the Florida Panthers get back on track. The Panthers enter Friday's game against the Sabres in KeyBank Center two points behind Buffalo in the Atlantic Division standings.
And so much of the rhetoric coming from Boughner and the Panthers sounds awfully familiar to the talk coming from the Sabres room.
"It's been a rollercoaster," Boughner said Friday morning in KeyBank Center. "I thought we had a great camp and there's some good things in preseason. I thought we started really well. We hit a little bit of an injury bug five, six games ago that sort of set us back, I think. We're starting to get guys back healthy now and even though it hasn't shown up in the standings, we're playing a little bit better in our own end and we're just really looking for that one game to get us back on track and I believe it's going to happen and so do the guys."
Boughner, 46, knew the deal when the took his first NHL coaching job with the Panthers on June 12. Boughner spend the last two seasons (2015-17) as an assistant coach for the San Jose Sharks and was an assistant for the Columbus Blue Jackets for the 2010-11 season.
"I knew what to expect, I think," Boughner said. "I knew it was a young team. There's a lot of teaching to do every day. Sometimes on the older teams that have been together for a while, you hit the ground running right out of training camp and there's not a lot of teaching because you have everyone there from the previous year. There's been a lot of teaching, a lot of detail work, here which is fine. It's what we all signed up for. I think once we all get together and everyone feels good about it and we start executing and seeing results, I think it's going to be a little easier."