Sunday night former Washington Capitals Head Coach Bruce Boudreau coached his 1000th career NHL game as the Vancouver Canucks faced the St Louis Blues. He became the 29th NHL coach to reach the milestone, achieving it with his fourth NHL team.
Boudreau spoke about the achievement prior to the game.
“I think if anything it means acceptance, that I’m an NHL coach. I don’t know if makes any sense to anybody else, but I mean I was 33 years basically in the minors (as a player and a coach). So to get this 1,000th game after not being in the NHL until you’re 53, I think is pretty cool that I finally feel like I’m accepted as a guy that’s been in the NHL for a while.”
Boudreau began his NHL coaching career in Washington on November 22, 2007. The Capitals had just fired Glen Hanlon after the team started off 6-14-1, which was the worst in the NHL. At that time, Boudreau was the head coach of the Capitals’ farm team, the Hershey Bears. The Capitals called him early that morning to appoint him as interim head coach.
Boudreau ended up winning his first game with the Caps, an overtime victory in Philadelphia against the Flyers. The Capitals played better as the season wet on, caught fire during March and April, won their last five games, and vaulted into the playoffs. They ended the season with a 42-31-8 record and a first place finish in the Southeast Division. His coaching performance earned Boudreau Coach of the Year honors, as the winner of the Jack Adams Trophy.
The Caps continued to be a good team under Boudreau for the following three years, with three more first place finishes in the Southeast Division. They were second in the Eastern Conference in 2008-2009, won the President’s Trophy in 2009-2010, and first in the Eastern Conference in 2010-2011. However, playoff success eluded them.
During the 2011-12 season, the Capitals slumped in November and fired Boudreau on November 28, 2011. He ended up coaching 329 games with the Capitals, posting a record of 201-88-40.
Boudreau did not have long to wait before coaching in the NHL again. The Anaheim Ducks appointed him as head coach on December 1, 2011. He ended up coaching the Ducks for 353 games, posting a 208-104-40 record. After that, he coached the Minnesota Wild for nearly four seasons and 303 games.
This season, the Vancouver Canucks hired him on December 5 to replace Travis Green after the team started 8-15-12 and were in last place in the Pacific Division. After Boudreau took over, the Canucks won their first seven games in a row and have gone 10-3-2. They are now 18-18-4 with 40 standings points, only four points behind the San Jose Sharks who are in fourth place and currently in playoff position.
“I think when we won the last game my first year [with Washington] to finally make the playoffs. We had to win 12 out of the last 13 and we had to win the last seven games. … I think that was as good of a feeling as I’ve had. Obviously when [the Ducks] beat Calgary to go into the conference final against Chicago [in 2015], for the first time I was in the third round, that was really exciting. I’ve been lucky enough to have teams that had great winning streaks. Anytime you have a 10-game-plus winning streak is always exciting and I was lucky enough to do it with all three previous teams. So all of these things add up to just an exciting time. The only thing left, to me, is winning a Stanley Cup and I can’t even imagine what that would feel like because I dream about it every day.”
Boudreau also spoke about starting the Hershey Cubs Junior A team (USPHL/U.S. Premier Hockey League). “I think it was a niche that wasn’t filled in Hershey and we’re not looking to break to bank. We were just looking to be able to give back, if you can make enough money to give to charities and get the kids working and teaching the right things. We’d love to win a championship, but we want to make it a viable place for other people to see games in Hershey in a great venue, and at the end of the year we just want to give everything back to the community and be part of the community because that’s where we live now.”
Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom and John Carlson contributed to the Canucks official congratulatory video released by the team on Sunday night:
1️⃣0️⃣0️⃣0️⃣ games gains you a few friends that want to congratulate you on this accomplishment. pic.twitter.com/W6NnjDT8gT
— Vancouver #Canucks (@Canucks) January 24, 2022
By Diane Doyle
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