Wow. Last night did actually happen. The Ducks have a new coach and a good one at that. This isn't just some former minor league coach getting his first shot at the NHL. This is Bruce F#$%ing Boudreau. Usually I save this kind of excitement for a new player joining the Ducks roster, but this is another level of "new" for the Ducks. How new? Let's take a look:
-- I think Alex Ovechkin is one of the best players of all time. I also think he's one of the bigger prima-donna's this side of Sean Avery. The fact that Coach Boudreau would have the balls to sit one of the greatest players in the world (along with his sidekick, Alexander Semin) for any amount of time should show the Ducks he doesn't give a f*#$@ who you are, you take a shift off, you sit. This is a stark contrast to Randy Carlyle's coaching style. I can't wait to see how Boudreau handles Ryan Getzlaf or how Getzlaf reacts to his new boss.
So it is true, even if it's not said directly, Ryan and Carlyle had issues. For a young star like Ryan to go as so far to request a trade, you had to know that things were bad. This isn't Teemu Selanne asking to be traded so he can go to a winner. This is Bobby Ryan asking to be traded - away from one of the best lines in hockey - to escape a coach. Pretty incredible if you ask me. The Ducks made the right choice by getting rid of the coach, not just for Bobby, but for the benefit of the team.
You're in for a treat Anaheim. We're used to seeing players as fan favorites, but Bruce Boudreau held a special spot in the hearts of Caps fans, both noobs and grizzled veterans ALIKE. While many Caps fans have been screaming "Fire Boudreau," for... well, a long time, the genuine and heartfelt outpouring over his departure spoke volumes. We liked him. We liked him a lot.
For starters he won. He may have not gotten us to the rarified air of Cupdom, but the SOB racked up an impressive number of wins. Beyond his win - loss record (nevermind the playoffs), he'll be forever known from a handful of rather corny local TV spots. Those star turns endeared him to many (but made others cringe). Boudreau's genuine persona as a likable guy who could poke fun at himself came through loud and clear, the low budget production values notwithstanding.
Authenticity is a Boudreau trait that Caps fan became accustomed to, and anyone who saw last season's 24/7 saw Gabby unplugged. The contrast between Dan "Mr. Personality" Bylsma and Boudreau, could not have been more stark. The former, wound a little too tight, teeth clenched and nervous on camera, gave way to the happy go lucky guy who shopped for his Christams presents late, but managed to find the time to visit a Haagen Dazs as he made his mall rounds.
Dressing room Bylsma and Boudrau offered a real study in contrasts. The Pens bench boss looked like any joker we've all been cursed with in the office - the robotic stiff at the front of a conference room, slowly and painfully walking us through a mind-numbing Powerpoint deck. Boudreau on the other hand was an actual human being; we saw emotions, raw energy, and appropriately, rage. Watching Bylsma was like a viewing a hidden camera inside a dentist's office. Bruce Boudreau on the other hand was like a visit with your favorite, indulgent uncle.
And perhaps best of all, Boudreau hated the Pittsburgh Penguins down to his very core. We liked that. We liked that a lot. Godspeed and good luck, Bruce. You'll win the Cup someday, but Dale Hunter will be drinking from it before you. And whatever you do - don't piss Dale off.
-- I hit up JP from Japers' Rink, forgetting he's going through a coaching change of his own (duh). Please head over to the site for their multiple posts on Boudreau. JP signed off his email to me with "And I couldn't be happier for Bruce. What a guy."
-- Finally, it occurred to me during Bruce's presser that he knows very little about the Western Conference; he admited he didn't really pay attention to the Ducks all that much beforehand. While the Ducks will benefit from his expansive knowledge on teams like Philly (coming to Ponda Friday), he's going to need to catch up fast. Game planning for Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin is significantly different than Joe Thorton and Patrick Marleau; however, there is a bright spot, he's seen Mike Richards A LOT. Richards lit up the Ducks in the last game versus the Kings.
I don't know about you guys, but I am ready to get the Boudreau era rolling with the Ducks. There are going to be bumps in the road as the team transitions. Be patient, cheer loud, and show Bruce we aren't just a bunch of pretty faces.