By: Ben Raby
STE CATHERINES, ONTARIO: A week ago we asked readers on CSNWashington.com to submit questions for former Capitals head coach Bruce Boudreau ahead of our one-on-one interview at his hockey camp in Southern Ontario.
In the middle of a typically hectic day for Boudreau at the Golden Horseshoe Hockey School (he calls it organized chaos overseeing 400 kids on six sheets of ice at two different arenas), the Anaheim Ducks head coach took a few minutes to speak to CSNWashington.com about his time in Anaheim and his memories and thoughts on the Capitals.
Check back to CSNWashington.com in the days ahead for additional posts on Boudreaus transition to Anaheim, and the story behind his hockey camp which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year.
Thanks to everyone for submitting their questions last week and please keep in mind that our time with Boudreau was limited. Below is a transcript of some our conversation.
CSNWashington.com: IN NOVEMBER YOU BECAME ONLY THE SEVENTH COACH IN NHL HISTORY TO COACH TWO TEAMS IN THE SAME SEASON. HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE THE EXPERIENCE AND THE CHANGE FROM WASHINGTON TO ANAHEIM?
Bruce Boudreau: It was crazy. Ive never changed organizations to coach a team midway through a season so it was a new experience. It was different but I thought the players in Anaheim started to get a hold of what I was trying to preach and for a couple of months we put together a pretty good run. We went 17-3-4 at one point during the second half, so Im hoping we can build off of that and I think were looking pretty good for next year.
CSNW: EVEN WITH THAT HOT STREAK IN JANUARY AND FEBRUARY, THE DUCKS STILL MISSED THE PLAYOFFS BY 15 POINTS. WITH A SIMILAR ROSTER FROM A YEAR AGO, WHAT GIVES YOU THE CONFIDENCE THAT THE TEAM CAN REBOUND NEXT YEAR?
BB: Well, Im looking forward to having a full season with the team. Im looking forward to training camp and working with the group under those conditions as opposed to last year when I was throwing a lot at them and teaching them on fly.
Im also excited for the start of the season itself and getting off to a good start because I think if you look at my record, my teams usually get off to good starts.
CSNW: WHAT ABOUT THE ROSTER MAKEUP?
BB: Well, I love our goalie Jonas Hiller. We have some good youth on defense along with some good veterans. Weve gotten bigger and weve also gotten a little deeper with the additions of Sheldon Souray and Bryan Allen this offseason so it will be easier to adjust to injuries.
Up front weve still got Bobby Ryan, Teemu Selanne, Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf. What weve also done this offseason is weve added veteran third and fourth liners Daniel Winnick and Brad Staubitz which we never had last year so now weve got some pretty good depth. When you add all of those things together, hopefully well make some noise in the West.
FAN QUESTION: WHICH WOULD YOU RATHER HAVE AS A FIRST LINE- OVECHKIN-BACKSTROM-SEMIN OR PERRY-GETZLAF-RYAN? (@TheBusinessOfCrappiness)
BB: Well, theyre different kinds of players. For the most part the Anaheim No.1 line is missing a piece. Bobby Ryan I didnt play as much with Perry and Getzlaf so that top line isnt as complete as it maybe was in Washington with a Semin or a Troy Brouwer or two or three seasons ago a Mike Knuble playing with Alex and Nicky.
But whether they play together or not, Perry, Getzlaf and Ryan are all gamers, they come to play every night, they play both ends of the ice and theyre all really good players. Theres a reason why Corey Perry won the Hart Trophy as league MVP in 2010-11 and theres a reason why Getzlaf is a captain and why hes wanted by everybody even though he didnt score a lot of goals last year (a career-low 11 goals in 82 games). But hes similar to Nicky- a fabulous passer and a little bit of a bigger centerman.
Corey Perry doesnt have the charisma that Ovi has, but he certainly has the compete level so I think in Washington and Anaheim were both searching right now for that other winger to complete a top line.
FAN QUESTION: HOW DOES IT FEEL TO HAVE FOUR CAPABLE CENTERS IN ANAHEIM? (@robostop10)
BB: We have depth up the middle and thats important. I like our centermen a lot and we have options for next season. Last years No.2 center Saku Koivu is going to be our third line center next year and hell be a solid checking center that can score. Its an important position, and an important position to have options. Like I said, we still want to find a winger, but I like our centers, for sure.
CSNW: HOW MUCH OF A BENEFIT IS IT AS A HEAD COACH TO HAVE VETERAN LEADERSHIP IN SAKU KOIVU, A FORMER MONTREAL CANADIENS CAPTAIN, AND IN TEEMU SELANNE A FUTURE HALL-OF-FAMER?
BB: Theyre a pleasure to have and theyre both tremendous leaders. Saku has the experience, he plays a good two-way game and he sets a good example on and off the ice. And what can you say about Teemu that hasnt been said before? Just a consummate professional.
CSNW: WELL, CAN YOU SAY THAT HIS PRESENCE IN ANAHEIM IS SIMILAR TO WHAT YOU HAD IN WASHINGTON WITH SERGEI FEDOROV IN 2008-09?
BB: Yes, theyre very similar. Both are fabulous people and I dont think you can find too many better men in the game than them. And theyve both played for so long, theyre both so smart on the ice and off, they can do so many things, they can play in all different situations and they both have had a passion for the game forever and thats probably the best thing. You hope that when you have that in your room that its infectious and that other players grab on to it.
FAN QUESTION: THAT SAID, DO YOU THINK THE 2009-10 CAPITALS MISSED FEDOROVS PRESENCE, ESPECIALLY COME PLAYOFF TIME? (@SamwiseGamgee(akaHarmCityOs))
BB: We might have been able to use him, Id say so. He was great the year before and he came up big in the playoffs with the game-winning goal in Game 7 of the 2009 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals against the New York Rangers, so maybe he could have done that again. But thats hindsight so who knows?
FAN QUESTION: GIVEN THAT THE CORE OF THE CAPITALS WAS YOUNG; DO YOU FEEL THAT THE EARLY EXIT TO MONTREAL IN 2010 HAD AN EFFECT ON THEIR CONFIDENCE? (@cadlecreek)
BB: No, I dont think so. I really dont think so. We still won the Eastern Conference the next year with 109 points and won our first round series quickly. The 121-point year was a special experience with a great group of guys so I dont think there was a drop in confidence, no.
I think we just missed a couple of empty nets during that 2010 playoff series against the Montreal Canadiens and if we had just capitalized on a few more chances, we could have won that series and had a pretty good chance at winning the Stanley Cup. You can say the same thing about the year before- if we win one of those overtime games in Pittsburgh, Game 3 specifically where we outplayed them very badly and had a 2-0 series lead, we could have won the Cup then. Sometimes things dont happen, not because the team isnt good or the team is missing certain players. Sometimes the breaks just dont go your way. I thought we had a couple of good runs and I think the Caps will have another good run next year.
FAN QUESTION: DO YOU BELIEVE THE CAPS ARE GOING IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION BY HIRING ADAM OATES WHO MANY BELIEVE WILL HELP THE CAPS CREATE A NEW MORE BALANCED IDENDITY? WHAT MIGHT HE BRING THAT THE TEAM MAY HAVE LACKED IN YEARS PAST? (@BoBThElmaM)
BB: Well, its good to see for Adam that hes going back to a team that he once played for and to a great organization but I dont know what exactly he plans to do.
When I watched the Capitals in the playoffs and they werent as aggressive as I would have done, but success works for all kinds of people. Dale Hunter had success his way; I had success for a few years before that, so who knows what the right combination is?
People forget that its still game of inches no matter how you play. You go back to those two years I was talking about (earlier in this transcript) and the missed opportunities there And then last year, what happens if the Caps win that draw in New York seconds before Marc Staals Game 5 overtime game-winning goal gave the Rangers a 3-2 series lead? What happens if Brooks Laich wins that draw (Note- Matt Hendricks lost the draw after Laich was booted from the faceoff circle)?
Its a game of inches. It doesnt mean that the Capitals are a worse team than the Rangers or that one style of play is better or worse- they lost a faceoff.
CSNW: YOU MADE TV APPEARANCES DURING THE PLAYOFFS AS AN ANALYST IN THE U.S. AND CANADA- HOW WAS THE EXPERIENCE AND WAS IT DIFFICULT PICKING THE RANGERS TO ELIMINATE THE CAPS IN ROUND 2?
BB: Yeah, I wanted to see how the other side lives and how they get their great analysis and how in depth they are and what I found out is that they wing it too (laughs).
But the Rangers were a first place team and the Capitals werent. I just thought the Rangers would win- just like a lot of people. I actually had the Rangers picked to win the Eastern Conference but obviously that didnt happen.
FAN QUESTION: ADAM OATES WAS AN NHL ASSISTANT COACH BEFORE BEING HIRED BY THE CAPS, WHEREAS YOU CAME DIRECTLY FROM THE AHL. WHAT WAS THAT LEARNING CURVE LIKE FOR YOU? (@cadlecreek)
BB: Well I think for the most part its a very big transition. For me, I was lucky because I already knew everybody in the Capitals organization and I had coached seven of the players in Hershey. So it wasnt like going in blind. Going in blind was me going to Anaheim. I didnt know anybody so I was probably more nervous this time.
FAN QUESTION: WHAT IS DIFFERENT ABOUT THE ENVIRONMENT IN ANAHEIM AS OPPOSED TO WASHINGTON? WHAT DO YOU MISS FROM WASHINGTON? (@BoBThElmaM)
BB: Its a different lifestyle, west coast versus DC but hockey is hockey. Both teams want to win- ownership, management, fans, players, coaches, everyone wants to win, so that doesnt change.
Anaheim is great but of course I miss DC. I was in DC until July 15th and Im going back later this month. I texted Washington Nationals owner Mark Lerner this week and Im going to go to a Nats game and Im going to go to a Redskins preseason game when Im there and if Maryland was playing Id probably go watch them play.
I love DC, its the best place Ive ever spent my life in and Im really disappointed the Ducks arent coming to Washington next year. Id love to come back to Verizon Center and I cant wait for that to happen.
CSNW: BUT AT LEAST YOULL HAVE YOUR FAMILY LIVING WITH YOU IN ANAHEIM NEXT YEAR:
BB: Were looking forward to that. We love Bullis which is where 14-year-old son Brady went to school, but we want to be the family and we want to stay together so were all moving out there. We commuted a little bit last year, but it was tough. So we cant wait to get settled and get things going.