When great hockey coaches are brought up, who comes to mind? Men like Scotty Bowman, Al Arbour, Pat Quinn, Mike Keenan, Toe Blake, and Pat Burns are often thought of; when it comes to current great coaches men like Mike Babcock, Joel Quenneville, Ken Hitchcock, Lindy Ruff, and Alain Vingeault are often brought up. Unfortunately, a man who is often ignored is current Anaheim Ducks’ coach, Bruce Boudreau. It’s unfortunate that this man is often overshadowed by other’s. I’m here to explain why Bruce Boudreau is and shouldn’t be the most underrated coach in the NHL today.
It’s not a lie to say that Boudreau has been blessed to coach some premier teams since he came onto the scene in 2007. Boudreau has coached two teams in his 8 years coaching: the Washington Capitals and Anaheim Ducks. Since the NHL’s return from its 2004-05 lockout, the Capitals and Ducks have been two of the most consistent post-season teams. While coaching the Capitals, Boudreau had the privilege of coaching names like Nicklas Backstrom, Mike Green, Michael Nylander, Alexander Semin, Sergei Fedorov, Olaf Kolzig, and of course, Alexander Ovechkin. While coaching Anaheim he got to coach men like Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Teemu Selanne, Saku Koivu, Bobby Ryan, and Ryan Kesler. So, on paper people may argue he had it easy when it came to his roster. To me, it really highlights all the egos and talent he had to deal with and how they should be or should not be played. This is mainly in regards to his tenure in Washington. Alex Ovechkin is known for being hard to coach, especially when it comes to his defensive game. Semin was always considered lazy, despite his immense talent, and hard to motivate. Yet, Boudreau still had immense success with that club.
In 599 games Boudreau has gone 363-167-69. Boasting a .663 winning percentage Boudreau has plenty left in him and the way the Ducks are going it’ll be a while before they stray off. Boudreau has won 7 division titles (4 with Washington, 3 with Anaheim) and a President’s Trophy with Washington in 2010. However, that is often his biggest criticism. He has all this regular season success, but has failed to convert it in the playoffs. He only recently made it to a Conference Final this year. Without that Stanley Cup appearance critics will continue to ignore Boudreau’s greatness. But, I for one don’t think playoff success should be considered in Boudreau’s greatness, mostly because he has plenty of time to win a cup. He is going into his 9th Season as an NHL head coach this year and I see him coaching for another nine seasons. Boudreau is 60 years old, but if Scotty Bowman is any indication, age doesn’t matter. I think Boudreau will win a Cup, and it might just be this year. Anaheim is primed to win the Cup and while their window isn’t going to be open forever, but it will be for the next few seasons. Boudreau’s Stanley Cup pace isn’t far off from some of the men I previously mentioned. It took Joel Quenneville 11 seasons to win his first Cup, it took Arbour 10 seasons, it took Keenan 9 seasons, and men like Lindy Ruff and Pat Quinn never won a Cup.
I don’t think Boudreau is the best coach today, that moniker belongs to men like Babcock and Quenneville. But I do think he is on pace for gaining that distinction. He’s not overrated by any means, he’s underrated. When, he left Washington they went into a steady decline before actually missing the playoffs in 2014. The Ducks were on a steady decline before Boudreau stepped in and brought them back to the playoffs. Boudreau is one of the most consistent coaches in sports today and that’s why his lack of Stanley Cup rings shouldn’t define him at this juncture of his career. In hindsight, when he’s retired, if he still doesn’t have a Cup ring than he won’t be able to achieve the moniker of one of the greatest of all time, but it still wouldn’t take away from the legacy he’d left behind. If he were to retire today I believe his career would be looked at with awe and appreciation, because he already achieved so much in his short eight seasons.