Dec 23, 2013, 12:18 PM EDT
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.
- NHL looking into Quenneville’s ‘grabby’ gesture from Game 1 37
- Getzlaf to play Game 2, looks awful 17
- Video: PHT Extra — can Detroit exploit Boston’s blueline? 12
- Sharks go on the attack, defeat Kings in Game 1 16
- Avalanche win in OT, complete third-period comeback 59
- Blues prevail in longest game in franchise history as Steen scores in third OT 23
- Video: Sharks’ Brown runs Voynov into Quick, scrum ensues 2
- Opportunistic Rangers pull away from Flyers, take 1-0 series lead 63
- WATCH LIVE: Minnesota Wild at Colorado Avalanche (Game 1) 1
- WATCH LIVE: Chicago Blackhawks at St. Louis Blues (Game 1) 1