Busy last few days for Guy Boucher.
Boucher, the former Tampa Bay bench boss who’s been coaching in Switzerland, has reportedly had discussions with GM Ray Shero about the Devils’ vacant gig — this after Boucher lost out on the Toronto job, which went to Mike Babcock.
News of Boucher speaking to New Jersey, reported on Wednesday by TVA, shouldn’t come as a huge surprise. He’s held in relatively high regard despite getting fired by the Bolts after just two-and-a-half seasons in charge; last year he led Bern to a second-place finish in the Swiss National League A, and a playoff semifinal appearance.
(He’s also in good standing with Hockey Canada, for what that’s worth. Boucher, along with Dave Cameron and Willie Desjardins, made up the talented assistant coaching staff to Pat Quinn at the 2009 World Juniors, and Boucher was picked by Hockey Canada to coach its team at the 2014 Spengler Cup.)
According to TSN, the Maple Leafs — who were unsure if they’d land Babcock — flew Boucher in from Switzerland this week after team president Brendan Shanahan interviewed him at the World Championships. TSN also reported that the Leafs may be interested in bringing Boucher aboard as one of Babcock’s assistants but, with head coaching jobs still available in New Jersey, San Jose, Buffalo and — technically — Detroit, it stands to reason that Boucher will keep his options open for the time being.
Per Sportsnet, Maple Leafs assistant GM Kyle Dubas (pictured) has brought in another OHL executive — Jim Paliafito, who’s been the Saginaw Spirit GM since 2011.
Paliafito, 53, has a pretty colorful background. Prior to getting his start in hockey, he spent several years as a NFL player argent, representing the likes of Hall of Famers Lawrence Taylor, Anthony Munoz and Tony Dorsett.
(For more on Paliafito’s history — which includes a stint in horse racing — click here.)
After 20 years as an agent, Paliafito transitioned to junior hockey first as a scout, eventually working his way up through the ranks to the Saginaw job. His addition to the Toronto front office follows in the trend of previous hires out of the Ontario league: Dubas came from the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, and director of player personnel Mark Hunter came from the London Knights.
Updated: Leafs confirm the hire, and with Paliafito’s official title. Also announce the hiring of Lindsay Hofford from — where else? — the Ontario Hockey League (London).
Like many of his Devils teammates, Travis Zajac doesn’t know what the future holds with Lou Lamoriello out and Ray Shero in as GM.
“To be honest, I’m not sure how I’ll be affected,” Zajac told NJ Advance Media. “I think I’m a very coachable player. Whatever they expect from me or want me to do, I’ll do whatever it takes to help this team in any way. I believe in this organization.
“I don’t see the change being too much of a problem for me. But with Ray, and when we get a new head coach, we’ll sit down and see what they expect from me. I have a lot to give still and I feel like I can still help this organization and this team.”
Zajac — who Lamoriello signed to an eight-year, $46 million extension in 2013 — has been something of a disappointment in recent campaigns and has yet to rediscover the form that saw him score 67 points in 82 games in 2009-10. Of course, that team featured the likes of Zach Parise and Ilya Kovalchuk, a far cry from the offensively-challenged Devils of last season, when Zajac scored just 25 points.
To that end, he feels it’s important for Shero to add some talent that’ll help the team find the back of the net.
“We would all like to score more goals. There is no doubt about that,” he said. “We could use some help at some positions and hopefully we can get that. If not, everyone will have to elevate their game. I don’t think we’re far away from where we want to be, but you can always bring in pieces that can help.”