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Boudreau returns to DC, where he helped put hockey ‘front-and-center’

Dec 23, 2013, 12:18 PM EDT

Bruce Boudreau AP

Brooks Laich remembers the days when a ticket to a Washington Capitals game wasn’t exactly a hot commodity. The 30-year-old first donned a Caps uniform in 2003-04, before Alex Ovechkin was drafted and when average attendance was just 14,720 to watch a team that finished with a dreadful 23-46-10-3 record.

But Laich doesn’t just credit Ovechkin with hockey’s turnaround in DC. He also credits current Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau, who returns to the Verizon Center tonight for the first time since being fired by the Caps in late 2011.

“He turned hockey from a back-burner sport into a front-and-center, front page, exciting, real entertaining game,” Laich said, per CSN Washington. “Certainly, the players and organization have had a role in that, too, but he was one of the leading forces to putting hockey on the map in Washington.”

Because it wasn’t just that the Caps started winning games under Boudreau; it was the way they played, running and gunning in a league that was desperately trying to move on from the so-called “dead puck” era.

Eventually, after failing to make a deep run in the playoffs, and with his team being accused of playing the “wrong way,” Boudreau dialed it back in an attempt to play the “right way” — a move he later hinted went against his instincts.

If only Jaroslav Halak hadn’t…well, no point in going over that again; that’s history now.

“Look what he’s done with [Anaheim],” Laich said. “They were a team on the decline and now they’re at the top of the standings again.”

Indeed, the Ducks are red hot, with eight straight victories and a 26-7-5 record.

  1. lowenni - Dec 23, 2013 at 12:33 PM

    Laich’s right. Boudreau’s postseason failures masked the fact that he was and is a really great coach, and as someone playing hockey in the DC area I can say that he is probably 50% responsible for hockey being relevant here in this area.

    • jpelle82 - Dec 23, 2013 at 2:33 PM

      i think ovechkin was responsible for 50% and then bruce boudreau and elliot segal contributed the other 25%.

    • grimlock410 - Dec 23, 2013 at 6:52 PM

      You can say he helped bring it back to relevance in DC but Bondra, Oates, Hunter, Kolzig made it relevant in DC.

  2. c9castine - Dec 23, 2013 at 2:08 PM

    and the caps still have never really recovered from the stretch they had that resulted in him being fired.

    i know why coaching changes are made, but boudreau was and still is a really good coach and one much better than the ones they have had since him.

  3. dipthatchip - Dec 23, 2013 at 2:10 PM

    I miss Boudreau a ton. Post season catastrophes aside, the 2008-2011 campaigns were some awesome Capitals hockey to watch.

    • lizardlickk - Dec 23, 2013 at 2:17 PM

      True, but I’ll take post season results over personality. BB never got it done.

      • c9castine - Dec 23, 2013 at 2:22 PM

        i would argue that the players never got it done. like game 7 against the pens in 2009. just didn’t show up when push came to shove.

      • therealjr - Dec 23, 2013 at 4:28 PM

        How did BB’s players do last year? Oh yeah, Game 7 home ice loss 1st round. Just because he wasn’t the only problem doesn’t mean he wasn’t one of them.

  4. dipthatchip - Dec 23, 2013 at 2:30 PM

    yep, can’t lay it squarely on BB.

  5. lizardlickk - Dec 23, 2013 at 2:50 PM

    Responsibility of failures fall on both coach, and players. Ultimately it’s much easier to let 1 person walk instead of blowing up a team. As much as I like BB, If it doesn’t work, you don’t keep trying the same thing. His adjustments never worked for our skill set

    • dipthatchip - Dec 23, 2013 at 2:57 PM

      arguments aside, lemme just keep whoopin’ your ass in NHL14. Ladies and gentleman, this man above me plays with classic/hybrid controls.

  6. joey4id - Dec 23, 2013 at 3:34 PM

    Unfortunately he was unable to deliver the expected results with an abundance of talent, which included the Great 8. And I do believe he was a victim of #8 not knowing how to play within the system. I’m not surprised with the success BB is having in Anaheim. Question is; will he and the boys be able to deliver when you separate the boys from the men?

  7. sanchock - Dec 23, 2013 at 9:43 PM

    Anybody else notice the Caps elected not to even show Bruce once on screen in the arena? Guy is back after two years and not only don’t you do something classy like a little video package for him, you don’t show him once to let the fans acknowledge him?

    That’s really poor as an organization Caps. Really poor.

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