Bruce Boudreau is the coach the Canucks needed

Dec 6, 2021; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Vancouver assistant coach Scott Walker and head coach Bruce Boudreau on the bench during a game against the Los Angeles Kings in the first period at Rogers Arena. Mandatory Credit: Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 6, 2021; Vancouver, British Columbia, CAN; Vancouver assistant coach Scott Walker and head coach Bruce Boudreau on the bench during a game against the Los Angeles Kings in the first period at Rogers Arena. Mandatory Credit: Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports /

It felt like a breath of fresh air watching the Vancouver Canucks beat the Los Angeles Kings 4-0 on Monday night. The team looked rejuvenated and played with more energy.

A little over 24 hours earlier, the Canucks made changes and two of those changes were for behind the bench. Out were Travis Green and Nolan Baumgartner and in came Bruce Boudreau and Scott Walker.

“I thought they played really hard and that’s what I asked them to do,” said Boudreau after the win over LA. “They were aggressive and they were on the puck.”

Boudreau is a coach that brings a ton of experience. He previously coached the Washington Capitals, Anaheim Ducks, and Minnesota Wild. He hasn’t coached since the Wild fired him in February of 2020 and spent the past few months as an analyst for NHL Network.

It’s fair to say Boudreau was pretty excited to be coaching the Canucks. He and the team were in high spirits at Monday’s morning skate and he was smiling, laughing, and joking with the media in his introductory press conference.

Boudreau is known for dropping F-bombs, (he already dropped an F-bomb at the end of his introductory press conference) his love for ice cream and is an offensive-minded coach. He seemed very open-minded about the roster and still believes the playoffs are a possibility but is focused on taking it one game at a time.

He also sees the value in analytics.

The players seem to be warming up to their new coach.

“Just from watching his teams in the past, they always played a pretty good brand of hockey,” said Quinn Hughes after Tuesday’s practice. “Everywhere he went, he had good teams.”

“Communication has been really good,” said J.T. Miller. “We’re trying to learn some new things, but the message is simple, we have to go out and compete.”

The fans also seem to love the new bench boss already especially the ones who attended the game on Monday night.

Boudreau was asked about the chants on Tuesday.

“I had people Tweet that to me,” he said. “It’s pretty funny. If you lose the next game it could be ‘Bruce, there he goes.’

Not only does Boudreau provide a new playing style for the Canucks but he also brings new energy to the locker room.

People on social media have been comparing him to Ted Lasso, the titular character in a show on Apple TV. He is a college football coach from Kansas who gets hired to coach an English soccer team called AFC Richmond despite not having any experience coaching soccer. You have probably have heard of it. (I have not seen it since I don’t have Apple TV.)

It is hard not to see why fans would make the comparisons. Boudreau like the fictional Lasso is an enthusiastic, upbeat, and passionate coach that wants to get the best out of his players.

Using real-life soccer examples this time, he is sort of like the energetic Vancouver Whitecaps coach Vanni Sartini and Chelsea FC’s charismatic tactical mastermind Thomas Tuchel. Both coaches were hired midseason (Sartini as an interim coach but was offcially named Whitecaps head coach over a week ago.) and led their clubs to success. (Tuchel led Chelsea to their second Champions League title five months after being hired while Sartini led the Whitecaps to their first playoff berth since 2017.)

I’m not saying Boudreau will lead the team to the playoffs because let’s face it, at this point, the playoffs are a long shot. At the time of this writing, the Canucks have a 15.8% chance to make the playoffs according to MoneyPuck.

What Boudreau can do is get players like Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser going again. He told Boeser to just shoot the puck at Monday’s skate and Boeser later scored his first goal in 13 games later that night against the Kings. He can also make the team watchable and fun. That’s what he did Monday night against the Kings.

He also has a track record of turning teams around.

When Boudreau got hired as an interim coach with Capitals in 2007 they were 6-14-1. With Boudreau, they went 37-17-7 for the rest of the season. Washington made the playoffs for the first time in five years and Boudreau won the Jack Adams. When Boudreau got hired by Anaheim, the Ducks had a 7-13-4 record. They went 27-23-8 the rest of the season including 38 points in 24 games from January to mid-February but went on to miss the playoffs by 15 points. The Ducks went on to win the Pacific the next year. Boudreau’s first season with the Wild had them with a 49-25-8 record and finished second in the Western Conference. That was a big improvement over the 38-33-11 record the Wild had in 2015-16.

Boudreau also has never finished a season with a losing record. (even when he got fired midseason.) It’s going to be a very tough hill to climb for the Canucks who currently sit 9-15-2 record which is tied for last place in the Pacific Division with the Seattle Kraken. However, Boudreau has a better chance to get the team back to .500 than Green did. It is still possible but a tall order.

The Canucks needed a coach like Boudreau. He’s got experience and has a track record of making teams with average rosters look better. His cheerful and enthusiastic personality along with his offensive playstyle can spark the Canucks and make them not play like a bunch of zombies every night. It’s been a while since Boudreau was behind the bench and he’s ready and excited to coach in Vancouver.

Yes, the Canucks still have their issues. The defence isn’t good and neither is the bottom six and the penalty kill. (The PK didn’t give up a goal against the Kings however.) Whoever the new GM is will have the task of fixing those. However, there is good reason to be optimistic about the start of this new era.

It starts with the man they call Gabby and with his fresh set of ideas, personality, and attitude, Boudreau can get the Canucks back on track. It won’t happen right away and it’s only been one game but let’s see what he has in store with the team going forward.

Next. Canucks ICYMI: Aquilini, Smyl, Boudreau addressed media prior to Monday’s game. dark