ANAHEIM, CA — On Sunday Bruce Boudreau returned to Honda Center for the first time since he was told to clean out of his office by the Anaheim Ducks.
While in Anaheim, Boudreau accumulated a 208-104-40 record. He lead the team to four straight Pacific Division titles. In 2013-14, he set set franchise records for wins (54) and points (116).
Yes, it wasn’t all sunshine and rainbows. Game 7 losses will be a part of his legacy in Anaheim forever.
But playoff disasters aside, one would assume the franchise that benefited so much from his presence would at least give the fans a chance to say ‘thank you’ when he returned.
The Ducks did zero to honor, thank, pay tribute to, or whatever for their former coach before, during or after Sunday’s game. It was like he was just another coach for another team with no connection to the franchise.
Was it because he was fired? Probably. Then again their current coach – who was once their former coach – got the ‘thank you’ when he came in with Toronto, but he did bring the team the Stanley Cup.
Plus, the team’s general manager likes Randy Carlyle. Just sayin’.
Not too long ago Boudreau stood behind the Wild bench as the team thanked their former-coach Mike Yeo in his return to MInnesota with the St. Louis Blues. Yeo, while important to the Wild, had half as much success as Boudreau with the Ducks.
The whole situation is disappointing especially considering what Boudreau said to the media in the pregame.
“I miss these guys that I’ve been around [in Anaheim],” said Boudreau, “… the people are exceptional, and the players have been exceptional.”
“We built really good relationships, or at least from my end they were really good relationships. I don’t know how they feel after the fact, but those guys in that other room I’ll remember forever.”
Classic Gabby. Always speaking with his heart on his sleeve.
When asked about his top three memories of his time in Anaheim, he was equally as heartfelt.
“I think it’s the people that are the number one thing,” said Boudreau. “The winning the division…championships is pretty cool as well.
“And then you watch some guys that have extra superior years. Like [Ryan Getzlaf’s] second year [with Boudreau], he was runner up for the Hart, and [Ryan] Kesler with the Selke [nomination].
“Seeing the growth of guys like the [Cam Fowlers] and the [Andrew Coglianos]. Those are memories that you sit there with. You see [Rickard] Rakell as a rookie and you see him now. You see Hampus [Lindholm] as a rookie and you see him now.
“It’s almost like a parent. You swell up with pride a little bit there.”
The team may not have given their public ‘thank you,’ but those same players mentioned above recognized the impact Boudreau had on them.
“Bruce was instrumental, personally, for me in terms of evolving my game,” said Andrew Cogliano. “He showed a lot of confidence in me as a player. As the years went on, I could tell he’s a coach that believed in me, which helped a lot.”
“I owe a lot of credit to him in terms of where my game has gone and where I am right now because when I was [in] Edmonton it was a rough situation. I think Bruce put my career in the right direction.”
Cogliano’s revitalized career has seen him become a part of the shutdown line with Kesler and Jakob Silfverberg. His role as a penalty killer has had a massive impact on the team’s PK.
Then there is Cam Fowler. He came into the league right after being drafted. He was 19-years-old and in the middle of his second season in the NHL when Boudreau took over for Carlyle.
“I’ve always been someone that’s harder on myself probably than I need to be, said Fowler. “Bruce taught me to go with the ebbs and flows of the game.
“It wasn’t so much the X’s and O’s on the ice, it was mentally. It was how to prepare yourself as a professional. How to believe in yourself and have confidence and play with that confidence; something I had a hard time doing for a while but was much easier when Bruce was around.”
Fowler was brought in under the guise of being the heir-apparent to Scott Niedermayer – no pressure, right? Bruce came in and refocused the spotlight on the defenseman. He figured out what worked for Fowler and eased his development instead of rushing it ahead. There is a reason so many teams want in on the Fowler tradebait and much of that has to do with Bruce.
Boudreau set this team up for future success by guiding the development of its core. For all his faults, he was a great ‘effing coach for the Ducks, and deserved better than he got – both on and off the ice.