There’s a fun, lovable aspect to Bruce Boudreau that should make him a fun guy for writers like myself to cover and fans like you to root for.
First of all, the new Minnesota Wild coach, who won eight division titles in nine years with Washington and Anaheim, has no filter.
He refers to the Wild’s Mikael Granlund as the “Good Granlund” because that’s how he deciphers him with his brother, Vancouver Canucks forward Markus Granlund.
In the middle of a Q-and-A with fans at the Star Tribune booth at the State Fair, he’d suddenly blurt things out like, “I hate refs, by the way,” and there are coaches he loves to beat, like [Toronto’s] Mike Babcock “because he thinks he’s good. He is good, but he thinks he’s really good.”
—Boudreau when he egged his neighbor, former NHL referee Paul Devorski, after Devorski called a penalty that led to Washington losing Game 7 of the 2008 Eastern Conference quarterfinals.
He told hilarious anecdotes, like rehashing the unforgettable showdown he had with former Colorado Avalanche coach Patrick Roy on Opening Night in 2013. At the tail end of a blowout loss for the Ducks, Roy got into a screaming match with Anaheim’s Corey Perry. When Boudreau came to his star’s defense, Roy started barking at Boudreau and nearly toppled the glass partition down onto the coach.
“I was scared stiff, man,” Boudreau said. “I had no clue what was going on. If you ever YouTube that, Corey Perry is squirting a water bottle on him the whole time, just egging him on, squirting it, squirting it, so he snapped. All I saw was the white in his eyes.”
Boudreau added with a laugh, “That’s why we hired [former intimidating NHL defenseman] Scott Stevens [as a Wild assistant]. Anybody comes after us, [I’m] just throwing him in the way.”
One of his coolest stories was the time he was so livid with (coincidentally) next-door neighbor Paul Devorski that he egged his house after the former referee called a penalty that led to the Philadelphia Flyers’ beating Boudreau’s Capitals in a Game 7 during the 2008 playoffs.
“A day later, I went up and knocked on the door and said, ‘Sorry. It was a joke and we’ve got to make friends because you’re the only guy with a pool in the neighborhood.’”
Boudreau’s philosophy with everybody is, “I’ll usually answer everything fairly honestly. A lot of times I’ll think, ‘Shoot, what did I just say?’ That usually happens on TV.”
He proved that when I asked him point blank if he’s concerned the Wild only has 10 forwards with legit NHL experience heading into this season.
Most coaches, especially those in the first year in a new city, would tip-toe around such a question in front of fans. Not Boudreau, who answered candidly, “I’ve let [General Manager] Chuck [Fletcher] know how I feel about it. Now, I’m not going to badger him because then he’ll get [angry] and that’s the last thing we want our GM to do is get mad at me before the season starts.”
Boudreau said he’s willing to keep an open mind when it comes to youngsters like Kurtis Gabriel, Tyler Graovac, Alex Tuch and Joel Eriksson Ek and bubble players Zac Dalpe and Jordan Schroeder heading into training camp, but “I want to make sure they’re NHL ready.”
Boudreau was a world of information at the Star Tribune event, and here were some of the most interesting tidbits heading into the 2016-17 season, one in which the Wild once again hopes to take that next step in a difficult Central Division.
Michael Russo covers the Wild and National Hockey League for the Star Tribune. He co-hosts a podcast on malepatternpodcasts.com, can be heard weekly on KFAN (100.3-FM) and seen on Fox Sports North. Follow him on Twitter at @russostrib.