GLENDALE, AZ - MARCH 03:  Head coach Bruce Boudreau of the Anaheim Ducks on the bench during the NHL game against the Arizona Coyotes at Gila River Arena on March 3, 2016 in Glendale, Arizona. The Ducks defeated the Coyotes 5-1.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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Boudreau’s already a breath of fresh air for Wild

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ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) The Bruce Boudreau era has begun for the Minnesota Wild.

For the players, the demands will be many. The expectations will be as straightforward as can be. The experience also promises to be a lot of fun.

“Sometimes he doesn’t even know what’s coming out of his mouth when he’s talking,” forward Charlie Coyle said.

The rotund new head coach, well-regarded for his regular-season success, well-known for his profane rants and well-liked for his down-to-earth and self-deprecating manner, formally took over Friday for the first two practices of training camp. The squad split into two groups and, in addition to plenty of time with the white board picking up Boudreau’s defensive scheme, went through a grueling conditioning test during which skaters had to complete several laps around the rink under certain times.

The drills were no joke, but Boudreau made sure to keep the mood light even while barking encouragement to the participants.

“We’re huffing and puffing,” Coyle said, “and he’s still making us laugh.”

NHL training camps began about a week later than usual because of the World Cup of Hockey, and six Wild players were given a break for the first three days in their transition back home from competition: forward Zach Parise and defenseman Ryan Suter from Team USA, forwards Mikko Koivu, Mikael Granlund and Erik Haula of Team Finland and forward Nino Niederreiter of Team Europe. Only Niederreiter’s team is still alive in the tournament, so he could be delayed further.

The learning process won’t wait, though.

“We want to ramp it up as quick as we can. We want to have a lot of pace in our practice. It’s a real mixture, because we have to teach at the same time. It’s not going to be like a practice in December,” Boudreau said. “At the same time, we don’t want anything slow. We want a lot of moving parts.”

The first exhibition game is on Monday against Buffalo in State College, Pennsylvania, and the season opener is Oct. 13 at St. Louis. That’s less than three weeks away. Hence the hard work on the first day, even though players train year-round these days and don’t typically need to get back into shape.

“Everyone’s just excited to get this thing going and start playing some real hockey,” defenseman Matt Dumba said.

There will be differences in style, for sure.

“I think they’re still trying to figure me out. `What’s this guy like? He seems to be smiling a little too much.’ Or, `He’s joking around with me. Is he really joking or is he sarcastic?”‘ Boudreau said. “I think it takes a little bit of time for guys to get to know me.”

Impressions are there to be made for the players, most of whom have never played for Boudreau before.

“Everyone’s here to get a job and knock people out of their jobs, so everyone came prepared,” Coyle said. “It’s good to see that intensity and that competition right away.”

Bruce Boudreau’s Stanley Cup search continues in Minnesota

Anaheim Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau, back, looks on against the Colorado Avalanche in the second period of an NHL hockey game Saturday, April 9, 2016, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
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This post is part of Wild Day on PHT…

Since he became an NHL head coach in 2007-08, Bruce Boudreau has had plenty of regular season success. The former coach of the Capitals and Ducks has an impressive record of 409-192-80.

During his nine years behind the bench in Washington and Anaheim, Boudreau’s teams have won 46 games or more six times. Unfortunately for Boudreau, that hasn’t translated into any championships.

Not only is Boudreau still searching for his first Stanley Cup title, he’s also searching for his first conference championship.

Now in Minnesota, Boudreau knows that time is of the essence. The 61-year-old, who’s now on his third team, won’t have many more cracks at the cup.

“I think they’re a really good team, and I think they can win,” Boudreau said in May, per NHL.com. “At my age, I think they can win in the next two years. I know they’re in the toughest division in hockey, which in itself is a great challenge. But I think they can win and I’m hoping I can be a little bit of a help and assistance there.”

Two years might be all the Wild have to be legitimate cup contenders. With Zach Parise, Mikko Koivu and Ryan Suter all over 30, it appears as though the window for Minnesota to hoist Lord Stanley is closing.

With the lack of consistency they showed in 2015-16, some might even believe that the team’s time has come and gone already. But if Boudreau can bring that winning mentality he had in Washington and Anaheim, anything is possible come playoff time.

To get the Wild back on track, Boudreau will need to find a way to get production from players that have struggled of late. Eric Staal, Chris Stewart, Jason Pominville, Jason Zucker and Jonas Brodin will need to deliver more than they did last season for the Wild to be serious contenders.

“I hope I can bring a Stanley Cup to this state,” Boudreau told NHL.com. “It’s something that I’ve looked forward to, for a hockey market like this, to come in with, I think, a team that has always been a tough opponent for any team that I’ve ever coached. Going forward I think we’re going to be even better.”

Bruce Boudreau’s attitude should be a boon for Eric Staal, Wild

NASHVILLE, TN - APRIL 25:  Head coach Bruce Boudreau of the Anaheim Ducks speaks to the media after a 3-1 loss to the Nashville Predators in Game Six of the Western Conference First Round during the 2016 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Bridgestone Arena on April 25, 2016 in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)
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By handing Eric Staal a three-year contract, the Minnesota Wild made it pretty clear that they believe that the former Carolina Hurricanes captain can bounce back.

Even with that in mind, new Wild head coach Bruce Boudreau seems like he can make a difference as a positive force, and that might be seen with Staal in particular.

Staal seems to think that Boudreau is a proponent of what he brings to the table, as he told the Pioneer Press.

“Bruce is someone that I believe, through the phone conversations I’ve had with him, believes in my game and believes in me,” Staal said. “He will give me every opportunity to try to rekindle some of that offensive flair I’ve had over the years and haven’t had in the last couple.”

Chris Stewart called Boudreau being in Minnesota “a bonus” after spending one season with the bench boss. Boudreau described himself as a “positive communicator.”

Hockey is a brutally physical sport, and many of the game’s best coaches are known to “bark” at players.

(OK, so Mike Babcock leans more toward a scowl, but you get the point.)

Still, with how highly trained professional athletes can be, a kinder and gentler approach might succeed in its own way. If you ask profoundly successful NFL head coach Pete Carroll, teamwork inspires people to “work harder.”

If you can get past the playoff disappointments for a moment, one factor that distinguishes Boudreau from others is his willingness to be flexible. He found a way to adapt when the Ducks weren’t scoring, molding them into a more defensive-minded group.

Now, let’s not pretend Boudreau is totally averse to screaming fits. HBO’s 24/7 series caught plenty of profanity-laced tirades during the tail end of his Capitals days.

The moments that cameras don’t capture are simply more likely to make a difference, both for Staal and for the Wild overall.

Boudreau’s ‘never had a defenseman play the kind of minutes’ Suter does

Ryan Suter
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The debate about Ryan Suter‘s ice time has been a popular one in Minnesota for years — see here, here, here, here and here for examples.

So, fittingly, the topic was placed in front of new bench boss Bruce Boudreau, as Boudreau discussed his recent hire of Hall of Fame defenseman Scott Stevens as assistant coach.

From the Star-Tribune:

Lots of fans have asked me how Suter has taken to the fact that Boudreau has never had a defenseman average more than 23 or 24 minutes a game.

Boudreau said he has not discussed that with Suter yet.

“It depends how good the rest of the defense is,” Boudreau said. “All I said is my thing is I’ve never had a defenseman play the kind of minutes he plays, but that doesn’t mean he won’t play those kind of minutes.

“It’ll mostly depend on [Stevens]. He’s going to be running the defense. Ryan is one of the best ones out there, so he’ll play a lot. How much? I don’t know. I haven’t been on a bench with him once in my life.”

Boudreau’s never had a d-man average more than 23 to 24 minutes partly because he’s never had a stud defenseman like Suter. The closest was Mike Green during that 2007-09 spell in Washington, when Green was nominated for a pair of Norris Trophies.

Green averaged a shade over 25 minutes per night in those two seasons under Boudreau. That’s plenty of ice time, though noticeably less than Suter, who’s averaged 29:25, 29:04 and 28:36 over the last three seasons.

Looking ahead, there appear to be three big factors at play for the Wild. The first is the fact Suter’s entering his 12th NHL campaign, and will turn 32 during the season. He’s put a lot of miles on the ol’ odometer.

The second is Stevens.

He’s pretty familiar with shouldering heavy workloads. Remember, this is a guy that averaged over 24 minutes a night in his final NHL campaign — when he was 39 years old. Granted, times have changed and the eras are significantly different, but Stevens knows the value of a heavy-minute, shutdown defenseman.

The third? What’s behind Suter.

Jared Spurgeon, Marco Scandella and Jonas Brodin could probably shoulder a few more minutes here and there, but it’s the younger guys that are more compelling. Minnesota would no doubt love for Mathew Dumba to take a step forward next year, and play more than the 16:50 he averaged this season.

Same goes for Mike Reilly (who only appeared in 29 games) and maybe even Gustav Oloffsson, the Swedish prospect that spent most of last year in AHL Iowa.

Kesler approached Boudreau after comments seemed to criticize ex-Ducks coach

ANAHEIM, CA - FEBRUARY 21:  Ryan Kesler #17 of the Anaheim Ducks looks on during the third period of a game against the Calgary Flames at Honda Center on February 21, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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Ryan Kesler sounded like he was indirectly taking swipes at former Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau during a recent interview with The Province, but he insists that wasn’t the case.

“(Kesler) texted me the next day and he said he was really upset because the reporters took everything out of context and said ‘they didn’t put anything in on the praise I laid on you,’” Boudreau said, per Yahoo Sports.

For the record, this is the Kesler quote in question:

“We just need a good bench coach, a coach that does things on the fly and makes changes during the game and not just between periods. We need a coach that holds everybody accountable — not just certain guys. We need a coach to come in and just be a good motivator and do what a coach does.

“The biggest thing is we need a good bench coach for strategies. But it’s not my job to pick a coach because there are a lot of good ones out there.”

What Kesler said about holding everyone accountable stands out in particular as Ducks GM Bob Murray spoke about the core players needing to be held accountable after he dismissed Boudreau. That was a problem that Murray seemed to have with the core throughout the campaign as he criticized returning players back in December for deciding that “training for this season was optional.”

Either way, everyone is moving on with Boudreau taking over as the Minnesota Wild’s head coach.