Vancouver – Fans of the Vancouver Canucks didn’t hear him during the games they chanted the coach’s name. But usually, when they want to kick him out.
“Bruce, here it is!” He’s become somewhat of a victory song at Rogers Arena since Bruce Boudreaux arrived in December and orchestrated one of the most impressive mid-season transformations in franchise history, even if the Canucks’ return under the 67-year-old coach is unlikely to yet get them to the playoffs. National Hockey League next month.
Boudreaux said early on that he doesn’t like cheering because it makes it seem like the game is all about the coach, when it’s really all about the players.
He also joked after it happened during his first game in Vancouver, in their 4-0 win over the Los Angeles Kings on December 6, that if the Canucks lost, the cheering would be “Bruce, here he goes.”
It makes you wonder what fans would really say if the organization chose to terminate its contract with the coach whose record with the Canucks improved to 26-13-8 when the team decisively swept back-to-back games this week in Las Vegas and Arizona.
A mini version of “Bruce, there he is!” It was clearly audible among Canucks fans in the T-Mobile Arena during Wednesday’s 5-1 win over the Vegas Golden Knights. And the cheerful support of a Vancouver coach on the road is unprecedented.
So far, Canucks general manager Patrick Alvin and president Jim Rutherford have yet to be arrested in Boudreaux’s obsession, in response to a question that Boudreaux is doing essentially well and the head coach will be reviewed after the season.
With the Canucks having an elective year available under a two-year contract that Boudreau signed with managing owner Francesco Aquilini in December – a few days before Rutherford was appointed – management had no pressure to deal with Boudreau now more than, say, J.T. Miller, the attacking influence that He has another season left on his contract.
But Boudreaux’s lackluster support, in a market where nearly all talk is analyzed and explained, has contributed to a growing sense that Rutherford and Alvin might consider someone else to coach the Canucks next year.
The issue has become a regular talking point on radio and social media to the point that Boudreau was asked about it during a press conference last week.
“I think I did a good job,” Boudreau said when asked if he would like to extend the contract. It’s a tough question. I mean, I want to train forever, and I really love Vancouver. I think that kind of answers the question.”
But the administration’s appreciation of Boudreaux is greater than it appears.
When asked in Las Vegas about Boudreaux, Alvin told Sportsnet that he feels bad that his coach is hearing guessing he might be replaced.
“I don’t know where this starts,” Alvin said. “Bruce has done a good job up to this point. We still play here and every game is important, and he prepares the team. I love the communication that you have with Bruce too.”
What will the process be in deciding Boudreau’s future?
“We’ll see what we are up to after these (final) matches, and after that, obviously we’ll evaluate,” Alvin said. “But for me, Bruce has done an amazing job since he got here in Vancouver.”
Asked if this meant there was still a real possibility that Boudreaux would coach the Canucks next season and beyond, Alvin said: “Absolutely. Absolutely.”
Yes, he said it twice.
In terms of merit, Boudreau has not only earned the second year of his contract but deserves an extension so he wasn’t mired in the same drama that his predecessor, Travis Green, experienced last season when he was in the final year of his contract and took over as coach. Every game as if his livelihood was at stake.
The Canucks’ win percentage is .638 since Boudreau replaced Green as the fourth-best player in the Western Conference, and tied with Calgary Flames.
The coach coordinated 1.3 goals per game: goals for 3.11 per game increased from 2.36, while goals against them decreased to 2.60 per game from 3.16. Incidentally, this team’s defense ranks fifth in Vancouver in the league since Boudreaux took over.
The power game jumped to fourth in the NHL (26.7%), from 22second abbreviation (17.4%), the murder penalty improved to a respectable 15y (79.8%) of class 32second abbreviation (64.6).
As veteran winger Tanner Pearson said recently, “Where were we when it all started, right? (Boudreau) turned the ship around and…helped us earn a chance again in the qualifying mix.”
Objectively, there is no discussion about Boudreau’s performance.
But Alvin, who was hired seven weeks after Boudreaux, has the right to pick his coach even if he was the last Canucks general manager to hire likely key man Dave Nunes in 2006, when he promoted junior Allan Vinault to replace Mark Crawford.
What is clear is just how eager Boudreaux, who stopped training for nearly two years after being sacked by Minnesota Wild in February 2020, wants to be in Vancouver.
“When you’re not in it, and you’ve been in it all your life for as long as you can remember, I think the biggest thing you miss is camaraderie — being in a group fight,” Boudreaux said. this week.
“Our players put in a great performance. We had some hiccups, but I think, for the most part, even when we lose, except for a few games, we were really competitive. And that’s important. It means we are really close.”
Boudreaux declined to answer questions about his future, except to say he was “comfortable” with his contract.
“I’m happy to do the work and I think I’m working hard,” he said. “I love doing it. Like I mean, I get up in the morning and that’s all I think about all day. And that gives you purpose, you know? When you think I’ve been doing this professionally for 47 years, that’s all you know. And you never want to stop.”
He won’t have to yet. If he is not in Vancouver, he will be training elsewhere next season. So Boudreau’s last four months have been good.