Apr 16, 2011, 9:00 AM EDT
At this very moment in time, Bruce Boudreau’s hold over the Washington Capitals head coaching job might be the safest it has been all season long. Yet if you’ve paid even a faint amount of attention to the NHL playoffs – even just the Capitals’ series during the Alex Ovechkin era – you know that a team’s fortunes can turn on a dime.
After all, the Caps held a 3-1 lead over the Montreal Canadiens in their 2010 first round series before Jaroslav Halak switched bodies with ’90s Dominik Hasek for about a month. For all the justifiable talk about the changes Washington made during their transition from a runaway offensive train to a standard issue defensive team, their margin of error has been paper thin. Besides, if any goalie can duplicate Halak’s magical run, it’s all-world New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist.
Although I think the Capitals would likely make an error if they booted bellicose Bruce Boudreau out the door if the team fails in the playoffs, that doesn’t mean it cannot happen. That would be a sad day for many (not just for DC-area Baskin Robbins shops), but one team’s firing is another team’s potential genius hire.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at how Boudreau would fit in with the NHL teams currently looking to fill some coaching vacancies (in alphabetical order).
Dallas - Sure, the Stars have ownership issues and probably won’t have Brad Richards next season. Even so, the team has some building blocks in place for Boudreau to institute an attacking offense, especially if Jamie Benn continues his ascent as the next big thing at the power forward position.
From a selfish perspective, it would also be hilarious to watch Boudreau gain approximately 3,000 lbs. after gorging on BBQ and Tex-Mex food.
Florida - Boudreau isn’t that far removed from his days as an AHL coach; the Panthers aren’t that far removed from being an AHL team. All kidding aside, this team needs a new identity, so why not bring in a style that might actually appeal to casual sports fans?
Boudreau might have to pretend he has a deep connection to the Chicago Blackhawks franchise to get on GM Dale Tallon’s good side, though.
Minnesota - If the Wild really want to shed the label of being a yawn-inducing, trapping team, then hiring Boudreau would be the best way to accomplish that task. They already have a ringer for Mike Green in Brent Burns, although the team might need to convince Burns to get a bad hair cut to drive the point home.
New Jersey - On first impact, one might ask: “Aren’t the Devils a defense first, second and third team?”
It seems that way, but one cannot help but wonder if such a paradigm only works with a mastermind like Jacques Lemaire. After all, looking at their roster, it’s not like they have a bunch of Scott Stevens-types on their blueline.
If the Devils can retain Zach Parise, it might be time to re-cast the squad as a more offensively dangerous group. Besides, Boudreau connected with a defensively indifferent, frequently shooting Russian left wing in Washington … why couldn’t he do it with Ilya Kovalchuk in Newark?
Ottawa – “Cloudy” Cory Clouston* was fired for two main reasons: 1) he missed the playoffs and 2) he rubbed many players the wrong way.
If Eugene Melnyk and Bryan Murray believe that they should go with a polar opposite to Clouston, why not try go with a lovable, profane type in Boudreau? Something tells me Jason Spezza and Sergei Gonchar would be happy campers, if nothing else.
* – I made this nickname up on the spot. Could you tell?
Anyway, it’s obvious that Boudreau’s job is safe, at the moment. Yet if Boudreau stumbles and the Capitals decide to can him, the above teams should seriously consider giving him a shot.
If nothing else, he wouldn’t be boring.
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