Originally posted on NHL Hot Stove  |  Last updated 12/1/11

 

As predicted, it didn’t take very long for Bruce Boudreau to resurface on the NHL head coaching map. After being dismissed from his post with the Washington Capitals on Monday, Boudreau didn’t even have time to make it to the proverbial unemployment line.

Boudreau produced a 201-88-40 record in Washington. Anaheim hopes for similar success. (Photo credit: Jean Levac, Postmedia News)

When the Anaheim Ducks fired Randy Carlyle following Wednesday night’s 4-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens, the team swooped in and hired the 56-year-old Boudreau to be his replacement.

The irony of the situation is many feel that Boudreau’s demise in Washington was hastened by an incident that occurred late in a November 1st meeting between the Capitals and Anaheim. Washington trailed by a goal late in regulation time, and Boudreau left captain and face of the franchise Alex Ovechkin on the bench with his club in dire need of a tying goal. Ovechkin was caught on camera uttering some unrepeatable phrases, and it seemed his play was rather indifferent for the rest of the month. Even though the team tied it and went on to win in overtime that night, it appeared that Boudreau’s fate with the Caps was sealed that night.

As pointed out in the aftermath of Boudreau’s firing in Washington, he absolutely deserved a better fate, but something had to be done.

Now just a month later to the day, Boudreau is at the helm of those very same Ducks.

Carlyle’s circumstances was very similar. Before Wednesday’s win, Anaheim had been in a horrific tailspin. Even with the victory against the Canadiens, the club had gone just 2-7-1 in their last 10 games, and 3-12-4 in the last 19. Their 7-13-4 record has the Ducks battling the Columbus Blue Jackets for the basement spot in the Western Conference.

Coaching the team since the 2005-06 campaign, Carlyle posted a 273-182-6 mark in Anaheim. His biggest accomplishment was in his second year with the organization, as he guided the team to a Stanley Cup championship in 2007.

One of the biggest disappointments for Anaheim this season has been their almost total lack of offense. In their last 16 losses, the club has mustered a measly 32 goals. The Ducks’ big line of Bobby Ryan, Ryan Getzlaf, and Corey Perry have all slumped this year, leading to persistent rumors that Ryan is on the trading block.

Look for the intensity of those rumors to calm down for a period of adjustment to the new coach, and for management to assess their club’s needs and Ryan’s performance.

It might be perceived that Boudreau is taking over in a climate that is much the same as what he experienced with the Capitals. The Ducks are a team that thrives when the big line produces, and Anaheim’s success is proportionately dependent on the amount of ice time given to the star players.

One of the issues he had tried to deal with in Washington was cutting the star player’s ice time, especially when they took a bad penalty or generally underperforming. In addition to Ovechkin’s murmuring caught on video, it also led to a rift with Alexander Semin, who was benched numerous times for lazy stick infractions and coasting in the team’s defensive zone.

For those expecting this move to be a failure in Anaheim, betting against Boudreau would not be a wise choice. Remember, he took over a confused and disjointed Capitals team in 2007, and immediately brought cohesion and disciplined play to the squad. He won the 2008 Jack Adams award as the League’s top coach, and sported a 201-88-40 record during his time in Washington.

The Ducks have looked to be in a similar fog of disarray this season, so Boudreau should be no stranger to the type of chaos he is coming in to. 

Much the same as when he took over the Caps, many of the pieces are already in place in Anaheim. Just like Washington had Ovechkin, Semin, Nicklas Backstrom, and Mike Green, the Ducks boast reigning NHL MVP Perry, Getzlaf, and Perry, along with ageless wonder Teemu Selanne. 

It may just be the team isn’t deep enough and moves will have to eventually be made. Or it could be all they need is for someone to arrange and maneuver the existing pieces in a way that makes sense, and in a manner that returns the Ducks to the western powerhouse we have come to expect.

It will be interesting to see just how long it will take to right the ship in Anaheim, but things will be rectified with a club that is struggling to find its way at the moment. Boudreau will see to that, just as he did in Washington.

And maybe, just maybe, Anaheim will eventually give Boudreau something in return that the Capitals could not during his time in Washington, and that is a deep playoff run.


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