Say what you will about former Anaheim Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau’s ability to succeed in the playoffs, but it’s clear his former players felt the four consecutive losses in Game 7s on home ice fell on no one but themselves. That includes Corey Perry, who has been one of the team’s longtime leaders.
Perry was shutout in the post-season, picking up four assists but failing to find the back of the net himself in the seven-game first-round series against the Nashville Predators. Perry wasn’t without his chances — he took 21 shots in the first round — but he was never able to solve Nashville netminder Pekka Rinne, and the 30-year-old winger seemed well aware that his lack of finish could very well have cost Boudreau his job.
“I take a lot of blame for what happened,” Perry said in his exit interview with media. “I didn’t score a goal. Whatever it might be. What happened, I take a lot of responsibility for that.” Read more
For the fourth consecutive season, Bruce Boudreau’s Anaheim Ducks exited the post-season after losing a Game 7 on home ice. And while he may have kept his job following the past three heart-breaking defeats, the fourth Game 7 loss has cost Boudreau his job.
Anaheim announced Friday that Boudreau has been let go from his position as the Ducks’ bench boss, ending his tenure as the team’s coach after 352 games over the course of the past four and a half seasons. During his time with the Ducks, Boudreau had a record of 208-104-40, which puts him second in franchise history for coaching wins and first all-time in winning percentage among Ducks coaches.
“I would like to thank Bruce for his hard work and dedication to the franchise,” Ducks GM Bob Murray said in a statement. “This was a very difficult decision to make. Bruce is a good coach and character person, and we wish him the best of luck in the future.” Read more
(Update: The Ducks officially fired Boudreau on Friday.)
There’s an elephant in the Ducks’ room. Bruce Boudreau is about to become a scapegoat. Perhaps replaced by a walrus.
We don’t know yet for sure, but an endorsement from Anaheim Ducks ownership and/or GM Bob Murray for their coach would be awfully surprising. Boudreau, after all, just fell to 1-7 in Game 7s for his career. He couldn’t get his team motivated to start the first period Wednesday night against Nashville. That problem has plagued him throughout his career in Game 7s. He also couldn’t get his Ducks to adjust and start working the puck down low when the Predators completely clogged the front of their net, protecting goalie Pekka Rinne as Secret Service agents would the president.
Boudreau is good coach. He’s an offensive wizard, regularly fielding teams who score at will. He’s a turnaround artist who can take over a new team and convert it from an also-ran into a regular season juggernaut and playoff contender quickly. But, fair or not, it’s a cold, hard fact he continuously fails to win The Big One. He’ll likely have to fall on the sword. This stacked Ducks team really doesn’t need much, save perhaps for one more good goal scorer, so what else can it do besides try a different coach? Franchise pillars Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry turn 31 next month. They’re still young enough to be impact NHLers and fuel a championship team, but their window is closing rapidly. Their best years are likely behind them now, so the Ducks must act swiftly to boot their odds of a 2017 Cup run. That probably means trying a new bench boss.
Who are the best candidates to replace Boudreau if he’s fired? And what are Boudreau’s options in his next search for gainful employment?
Sadly, we cannot ask Pat Quinn what he thinks of the NHL’s implementation of a coach’s challenge for offside calls. As it was with almost any subject from World War II strategy to the neutral zone trap, it would have been very interesting to hear the former coaching great’s perspective on it.
Your trusty correspondent has been covering this game for almost 30 years and they have never seen a coach who had a deeper disdain for officials than Quinn did. And the roots of that go back to May 24, 1980. And if you want to talk about how one of these overturned calls can change a game or a series, consider the fact that not one, but two were not overturned that day had an enormous impact on a series, a career and a legacy.
Before the Boston Bruins announced Thursday that Claude Julien will be coming back next season – he might want to freshen up that resume though, you know, just in case – it was assumed that it were let go that he’d instantly head to the top of the list of candidates to coach the Ottawa Senators.
Julien is one of the best, if not the best, coach in hockey today. What’s to say that a bench boss of that ilk would even want to coach the Senators? First, you’re working for a loose cannon. Second, you’re working for a loose cannon that owns a budget team. It’s one thing to be wildly eccentric and rich, a la George Steinbrenner or Jerry Jones. It’s quite another to work for a guy who writes checks with his mouth that his team’s bank account can’t cash.
Sorry, Ottawa Senators. You don’t have a slam-dunk replacement for coach Dave Cameron after all. You won’t get your man this off-season, as the Boston Bruins have decided to retain coach Claude Julien. General manager Don Sweeney announced it at a press conference Thursday.
“I emphatically believe that Claude’s a coach that can take us through what I’ll describe as a bumpy transition period,” Sweeney told reporters.
Sweeney added “I have work to do” and that he “believes in Claude as a coach.”
Can a decision be surprising and unsurprising at once? On one hand, it sure looked like Julien was done in Boston. Plenty of local pundits penned opinion pieces predicting Julien would be pink slipped after (a) his Bruins missed the playoffs a second straight season and (b) things ended with a hideous thud, as Boston was eliminated on the season’s penultimate day losing 6-1 at home to Ottawa and getting booed off the ice.
On the other hand, Julien won a Stanley Cup with Boston in 2011. He became the franchise’s winningest coach of all-time this season, surpassing Art Ross in March. Julien steered Boston to playoff berths in his first seven seasons there. He took them to the final twice. He helmed two 50-plus-victory squads. A resume like that earns you some leash. Coaches rarely survive in today’s NHL when they miss the big dance two straight years, but Julien is among the few who can get away with it. Considering what he’s done for the franchise since taking over as coach in 2007-08, firing him would’ve been a slap in the face in the eyes of some.
So is Sweeney loyal to a fault, or has he made a prudent and sober decision in retaining Julien?
The Ottawa Senators have fired coach Dave Cameron and assistants Andre Tourigny and Rick Wamsley, while another coach, Jason Smith, has been offered a different role in the organization.
With Pierre Dorion officially taking over as GM for the ailing Bryan Murray, this was a move that makes sense. But boy, it better be the last coaching change this franchise makes for a while.
Former Minnesota North Stars GM Lou Nanne was in the press box at the Air Canada Centre this past week and was talking about the state of the game. He said he recently went golfing with Bob Pulford and Harry Sinden and recalled the conversation was dominated by how many less-than-exciting NHL games there have been this season.
And Nanne’s not the only one. An authority no less than Wayne Gretzky recently chimed in on the subject and said that hockey at all levels, “lacks creativity and imagination.” Not sure that’s true. There’s lots of creativity and imagination in the game. Just go to your local arena and watch a minor hockey game and see some of the special things these kids can do. The creativity and imagination is there, but it’s being sucked out by astute and well-meaning coaches. The Toronto Maple Leafs are a good example of that. They used to be bad and exciting. Now they’re bad and boring. But they’ll get better and the only way they’ll get better is to play that way. And no amount of shrinking goaltending gear is going to change that.