It is the life of a hockey coach. Your message resonates for a few years, and then players start to tune it out. Losses mount, frustration grows and a change is made. When Capitals general manager George McPhee fired Bruce Boudreau on Nov. 29, 2011, he made sure everyone understood Boudreau was still a good coach.
That has been proved once and for all during his tenure with the Anaheim Ducks. Hired just a few days after his dismissal in Washington, Boudreau led Anaheim to a 27-23-8 record over the final four months of the season. As he did with the Caps, he took a struggling group and immediately infused confidence in it. The Ducks were 7-13-4 at the time Boudreau took over.
"He's just a positive guy. Everything he does is focused on the next win, what could possibly happen," said Florida Panthers forward George Parros, who played for Boudreau in Anaheim last season. "We were like the second-to-last-place team in the league, and he got there, and in his mind he had it all worked out how we were going to be in third place after a few weeks. His positivity can be infectious."
And that has carried over to the 2013 season. Anaheim was 20-3-4 entering Monday night's game against San Jose. That was good for 44 standings points, and only the absurdly hot Chicago Blackhawks (23-2-3, 49 points) had more in the entire league. A team that wondered whether star center Ryan Getzlaf and star winger Corey Perry would both flee the organization via free agency this summer already has locked up Getzlaf to an eight-year contract. That's in part because Boudreau again has provided a breath of fresh air to a group that needed one.
- Brian McNally