Coach Bruce Boudreau’s shortened debut season with the Anaheim Ducks was good enough to keep him around for a whole lot longer.
The Ducks signed Boudreau to a two-year contract extension Thursday, locking up their respected coach through the 2014-15 season.
Anaheim rewarded Boudreau for reviving the struggling Ducks after he replaced Stanley Cup-winning coach Randy Carlyle, who was fired Nov. 30. The Ducks went 27-23-8 under Boudreau, compiling one of the NHL’s best records after the All-Star break.
”This team, we’ve just started going where we want to go,” Boudreau said. ”If we had started a little bit earlier, anything could have happened. These playoff teams, we competed with all these teams, going tooth and nail.”
After a lifetime spent mostly on the East Coast, the Toronto native is finally getting used to California’s sunshine and warmth as well.
”It’s certainly nice waking up every morning,” Boudreau said with a chuckle. ”Being an East Coast guy my whole life, I didn’t know what it would be like. It was a lot easier to come to work every day than I thought it would be. I used to think, `How do they do it every day?”’
Two days before he took over in Anaheim, Boudreau was fired by the Washington Capitals, who won the 2010 Presidents’ Trophy and made the playoffs four times during his four years in charge, but had little postseason success. Boudreau also won the 2008 Jack Adams Award as the NHL’s top coach.
He is 228-111-48 in his NHL coaching career with Anaheim and Washington, winning 200 games faster than any coach in modern league history. He earned 184 wins in his first 300 NHL games, the most by any coach in league history.
Boudreau has been busy since the Ducks’ season ended, taking in minor-league games and doing player evaluation while also spending time on Canadian television. The affable coach seems to be a broadcasting natural, but said he’s ”glad that’s not my day job.”
During his media blitz, Boudreau picked Los Angeles, the Ducks’ Freeway Faceoff rivals, to make the Stanley Cup finals after seeing the Kings’ determination late in the season.
He’s conflicted about how he’ll feel if the Kings advance past Phoenix to the finals – particularly if they face the Capitals, who play a decisive Game 7 in the second round against the New York Rangers on Friday.
Washington never got out of the second round during four seasons under Boudreau despite winning four straight Southeast Division titles.
”A new team is going to be in the Stanley Cup final for the first time in a long time (out of the West), and that’s great for hockey,” Boudreau said.
”I’m happy in the sense that I think it’ll grow hockey in Southern California with the attention (if the Kings advance),” Boudreau added. ”For me, it’s really important for the growth of the game. But I’ve got to be honest, I don’t think I’m going to sit here and say I’m happy they’re going to win.”