Vancouver between rock and hard place: Bruce Boudreau overcomes emotion at morning skate press conference as coaching change rumors swirl around Canuck

Jeff Vinick/NHLI via Getty Images

Although longtime NHL head coach Bruce Boudreau has struggled to reach the pinnacle of Stanley Cup wins, his resume as a bench boss is undeniably impressive. Tied with former NHL bench boss Jack Lemire as the 20th winningest coach in NHL history with 617 wins, he’s been a proven winner everywhere he’s gone. However, the situation he now sees in Vancouver as the head coach of the Canucks is not positive.

The Canucks have booked 25 games in the 2021-22 season After an 8-15-2 start under previous bench boss Travis Greene, Boudreau led Vancouver to a 32-15-10 finish in the regular season and a 40-30-12 overall record. Retained for the 2022-23 seasonBoudreau’s Canucks have struggled, currently sitting sixth in the Pacific Division with an 18-23-3 record.

While the Canucks’ struggles understandably gave Boudreau a spotlight, a poorly constructed roster and lack of a vote of confidence in the front office (such as former general manager Jim Benning, current GM Patrick Alvin and team president Jim Rutherford) also contributed to the team’s inability to play a winning brand of hockey.

Earlier in the week, Rutherford addressed the team’s struggles and rumors of changes behind the bench, though his comments were anything but encouraging:

“All I can say is that Bruce is our coach now. But with this, I’m calling and talking, but don’t know that we’re making a change and don’t know that we want to make a change.”

Earlier today, following Vancouver’s morning skate, Boudreau addressed the cloud hanging over his head, and it’s clear the gravity of the situation was on the veteran bench boss’s mind, saying, “I’d be a fool to say I don’t know what’s going on. But like I said before, you get to work, and you realize how great the game is…”, before pausing and ending the press conference overcome with emotion when asked what it means to be an NHL head coach.

The man known as “Gabby” went 50-38-13 (.559 point percentage) in 101 games behind the Canucks’ bench, and after his morning skate press conference, fans, former players, pundits and others took to social media to call out Boudreau, who has been around the hockey world. Widely respected, and to defend his situation in Vancouver.

The Canucks host the Colorado Avalanche in Vancouver tonight and play the Edmonton Oilers and Chicago Blackhawks over the next two days. Boudreau, 68, has made previous stops in Minnesota and Anaheim, after starting his career in Washington in four seasons, guiding the Caps to a Southeast Division title and playoff berth in his first season after taking over from predecessor Glenn Hanlon (for which he led the NHL’s won the Jacques Adam Award as the best coach); Additionally, he captured the Calder Cup in 2006 with the Hershey Bears.

By Michael Fleetwood

Further reading:
Renaissance run: Bruce Boudreau named 14th head coach in franchise history 15 years ago today
Bruce Boudreau reflects on 9/11 and how a last-minute flight change saved his life
Bruce, there it is! Former Capitals head coach Bruce Boudreau coaches in 1,000th career NHL game
Canucks to fire bench boss Travis Green, hire former Capitals head coach Bruce Boudreau as replacement

About Michael Fleetwood

Michael Fleetwood was born into a family of diehard Capitals fans and has been watching games for as long as he can remember. He was born the year the Capitals went to their first Stanley Cup Final, and is a diehard Caps fan, owning the first Joe Beninati jersey and, since then, meeting Joe himself. Michael joined the NoVa Caps team in 2015 and is most proud of the growth of the NoVa Caps community during that time. An avid photographer, Michael lives in VA.


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