Monday night in Washington, D.C. will be a homecoming for Anaheim Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau. The 58-year-old Toronto native made hockey in the nation’s capitol fun again, reviving the Washington Capitals after many slumping seasons.
Boudreau got his start in the Capitals organization when he led Hershey to it’s ninth Calder Cup in 2005-06, beginning the dynasty for the Chocolate and White, which includes three Calder Cups (including back-to-back in 2008-09 and 2009-10,) eight straight playoff appearances, and many NHL-ers from the teams that won those cups.
In 2007, Boudreau was promoted to Washington after the firing of Glen Hanlon. He would finish the season with the Capitals in the playoffs, and would lead them there for four straight seasons before being let go in November of 2011. Despite being let go, he does not feel any hate toward the Capitals. “I was grateful for (the Capitals) and what they gave me. No one would have ever hired me; 30 years in the minors,” said Boudreau after morning skate Monday.
“(George McPhee and Ted Leonsis) took a chance on me. Even though you got let go, I was grateful for the opportunity because I got a job basically a day later.” That job would be the Anaheim Ducks job. Only two days after Boudreau was fired, the Ducks hired him, making him the fastest coach to be hired after being fired in NHL history.
Now after 144 games behind the bench in Anaheim, Boudreau is loving the West Coast and his team, which in now on an eight game winning streak with the best record in the NHL.
Alongside him behind that bench is former Bears head coach Bob Woods. Woods was originally an assistant with Boudreau in Hershey and has returned to that same position in Anaheim. Monday, Woods skated on Verizon Center ice for Ducks morning skate, a moment that has only happened a few times during his tenure with Washington. “The three years I was here, I think I skated on the Verizon Center ice only three times. It’s different coming in, being on this side of the locker rooms and that side of the bench. I’m excited, I think it’s going to be a great hockey game. Two teams wanting to go into the Christmas break with a win. It should make for a good battle.”
Anaheim is filled with former Bears like Sheldon Souray (who has been injured for the first part of this season and is expected to rejoin the Ducks after Olympic break) and Mathieu Perreault. Perreault has been thriving in a Ducks sweater, producing 19 points in 32 games. Despite his new found success, the 25-year-old is thankful for his time in Hershey. “I think 90% or even more of the players in the NHL played in the AHL, and for me to play there and that chance to win, we won back-to-back Calder Cups, playing on a championship team. I think it was big for my development.”
The Ducks will take the ice against Washington on Monday night at 7pm.