Checking in on Bruce Boudreau

Posted on December 19, 2013 by Ben Bruno

Photo Credit: Geoff Burke, US Presswire

The Anaheim Ducks are coming to Washington on Monday and not only will the Caps have their hands full with currently one of the best teams in the NHL, they will also have to face one of hockey's winningest coaches, our old friend Bruce Boudreau.

Boudreau became an immediate fan favorite after being named head coach of the Caps in 2007 because of his success, coupled with a demonstrative attitude behind the bench and candor in interviews. Inheriting a Caps team that was playing as poorly as their 6-14-1 record indicated, he turned them into eventual Southeast Division champs by season's end - a first for the Caps in seven years. Boudreau's success in the regular season did not end there as he went on to compile a 201-88-40 record as the head coach of the Caps from the 2007-2008 season until his firing 22 games into the 2011-2012 season. Also on his resume over that span are three more division titles and a Presidents' Trophy (the Caps' first). In 2008 he was named the NHL's best coach, winning the Jack Adams Award. In almost no time, he became the fastest coach to reach 200 wins in the NHL's modern era. Although Boudreau's teams have not had much success in the playoffs, his regular season winning percentage for coaches with a minimum 200 games is among the top five of all time and is only getting better after having being hired by the Ducks.

Boudreau was hired to coach an underperforming Ducks team during the 2011-2012 season and he finished with a record just a few games above .500 in 58 games. His record last season combined with this year is 54-19-11 through 84 games, good for a .708 winning percentage. He led Anaheim to the two-seed in the Western Conference last season, but lost a closely fought first-round series with Detroit in the first round, with four games going to overtime. This loss did not help disprove the argument that Boudreau is an incredible regular-season coach who is incapable of winning in the playoffs.

Boudreau's success in the regular season cannot be denied, and while he hasn't yet found the same success in the playoffs, he's done more than enough to prove that he deserves to be a mainstay behind the bench of any NHL club. A career AHL player, Boudreau has been around hockey his whole life and knows the game well. While he may no longer be able to skate like he used to (thanks Haagen-Dazs), his understanding of what it takes to win is undiminished. The playoffs are often a crapshoot, with the best teams in the regular season not always making deep runs. I'd like to give Boudreau the benefit of the doubt in this situation, but unfortunately until he coaches a team that carries over regular season success well into the playoffs, the stigma of being a just a regular season winner will forever be a cloud over his head. Either way, I'll be happy to see Boudreau back in DC on Monday night, even though I hope his team loses.

Check out the quintessential Boudreau on HBO’s 24/7 from a few years back.

next up:

Talk The Red 12-18-13 (Capitals Podcast)

December 19, 2013

The TTR boys are back talking all things #Capitals. Discussing Ovechkin, Tom Wilson and the lady who got hit by the puck calls in!


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