Less than four days after I wrote an article speculating that fired Anaheim Duck coach Bruce Boudreau had probably coached his last NHL game, at least for a while, he is back in the NHL as a head coach once again. What makes his return even more incredulous is that his new employer is the Minnesota Wild who it is rumored, beat out Calgary and Ottawa in a race to get him. Evidently these teams, unlike myself, see Boudreau as the next Moses who can get to the Stanley Grail – Cup.
Minnesota used to miss the Stanley Cup Playoffs regularly. A few years ago, they spent a lot of money on free agents Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. Now instead of missing the playoffs, they qualify, maybe win a playoff round against a lesser team like Colorado and St. Louis, and then get put out by a better team, usually Chicago, but this year Dallas. They are a team of wheel-spinners, stuck at the first or second rounds of the playoffs.
Evidently management sees the problem as a coaching one, firing Mike Yeo, and now interim coach John Torchetti. What they will not admit is that even with Parise and Suter, Minnesota simply does not have enough talent to be a true Stanley Cup contender.
A few years ago, Boudreau got his first head coaching job in Washington, but became one of a string of coaches of the wheel-spinning Capitals who failed to get the Alexander Ovechkin-led team even to the Eastern Conference Final. Then he became coach of Anaheim. This time he did better, getting the Ducks to the Western Conference Final after beating lesser teams Winnipeg and Calgary. But like in Washington, each time he had to play a true Stanley Cup contender like Los Angeles and Chicago, Boudreau was sent packing. He failed to lift his team to a higher level.
But isn’t this the same situation in Minnesota? The Wild have even less talent than Washington and Anaheim. Isn’t the problem that Minnesota cannot advance deep into the playoffs and win a playoff round against the better teams? If Boudreau cannot do this with the more talented Capitals and Ducks, how is he supposed to do what he could not do before with the less talented Wild?
The type of coach Minnesota really needs (since they will not significantly increase their talent level) is in San Jose, where Peter DeBoer took under-talented New Jersey to the Stanley Cup Final and now seems poised to take the over-the-hill Sharks past up-and-coming Nashville after eliminating favored Los Angeles in the first round.
As for Boudreau, he is the type of coach who can make a bad team good but not a good team great. He is probably more suited for teams like perpetual doormats and under-achievers Columbus and Edmonton.
The only thing Minnesota has done is spared Ottawa and Calgary the mistake of hiring Boudreau. They would do better to try and find their own Peter DeBoer somewhere else. As for Minnesota, unless management significantly upgrades its talent, the results are probably going to be the same.
Right now, Minnesota General Manager Chuck Fletcher is being congratulated for signing Boudreau. He had better be right in his choice because if Boudreau stays true to form in his playoff coaching career, the next firing in Minnesota will probably be Fletcher.