The Ducks gave a strong vote of confidence to coach Bruce Boudreau this afternoon, signing him to a two-year contract extension with the intent of making him Anaheim's coach through the 2014-15 season.
It's a well-deserved gesture to a coach who quickly made himself at home in this organization, and led the Ducks to a 27-23-8 record after taking over for Randy Carlyle on the night of November 30. He also helmed a blazing January and February that had the Ducks playing as well as any team in the league after a wickedly frustrating first half of the season.
Off the ice, Boudreau could hardly be a more likeable guy, friendly with fans and media alike, often funny and always willing to do what he can to promote hockey and the Ducks in Orange County and beyond. I've always thought the biggest compliment you can give a person of stature (athletes, celebrities, etc.) is that they "get it," meaning they understand the importance of being cheerful and engaging with the public. Teemu Selanne
is a guy who "gets it." And Bruce Boudreau absolutely "gets it."
Today he had a conference call with media from his offseason home in Washington, DC and was his jovial self. After the Ducks PR guy introduced Bruce on the call, he got on the line and said, "Atta boy, way to work."
He was asked how the deal came together and said that although he and Ducks boss Bob Murray had been talking about it for awhile, "At the same time it took 10 minutes. We haven't been in the same place at the same time much this offseason. We finally met in Toronto last week, went an saw an AHL game together and just chatted.
"We both have the same vision and we're on the same page, so it seemed like a good idea. I think this team has just started going where we want to go. We competed with all the teams that are in the playoffs now."
Asked how much the extension adds some stability, he replied, "You put enough pressure on yourself to win all the time, but at the same time it's important to have stability and have the players know that someone is going to be around for a long time.It's always great that the GM and ownership have that much faith in you, and it's my job to justify it."
The conversation turned to the Western Conference Finals between the Kings and Coyotes and Bruce was asked for his pick, once again showing a firm grasp of the Anaheim-LA rivalry. "As much as I didn't really want to do it, I picked LA to win the West," he said. "I thought they were the toughest team we played, especially down the stretch when teams had to win.
"Whatever it is, a new team is going to be in the Final for the first time in a long time, and I think that's great for hockey. I'm happy that it will grow hockey in Southern California, and to me that's really important for the game. But, I've got to be honest, I'm not going to sit here and say I hope they win. It all depends on who their opponent is in the Final, by the way."
That drew a laugh from the media on the call, since Boudreau's old employer, the Capitals, is heading toward a Game 7 with the Rangers right now.
He went on further about the Kings: "My feelings are going to be day to day. Is it motivation for us if they do win? Is it going to make the rivalry more intense because we won one and they won on the last five years, two California teams winning the Cup since 2007? They haven't won anything yet, so they've got a ways to go, but the way they played the first two series, it's not out of the realm."
No matter what effect the Kings' success has on the already passionate Ducks-Kings rivalry, it sure is nice to know we'll have Boudreau on our side for (at least) the next three seasons.