With an aging core, the Wild could be Boudreau’s biggest challenge yet

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When the Minnesota Wild announced they’d agreed to terms with Bruce Boudreau, they made sure to note the great records he had in Washington (201-88-40) and Anaheim (208-104-40).

In the first paragraph of the press release, it mentioned how Boudreau became the fastest coach in NHL history to reach the 400-win mark and how he leads all active NHL coaches in winning percentage.

The Wild were not wrong to highlight all that. They’d just spent a lot of money on a new coach, and a 409-192-80 record is definitely something to be trumpeted.

That being said, what the press release didn’t mention is all the talent that Boudreau had been lucky enough to coach in his two previous NHL stops. When he took over in Washington, Alex Ovechkin was just entering his third season, and Nicklas Backstrom was only a rookie. When he got hired by Anaheim, Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry were still a few years away from 30.

In that sense, what he’s got now in Minnesota is different. The two core guys, Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, are each 31 years old. The captain, Mikko Koivu, is 33. Those three can still play — they were the Wild’s top three scorers during the regular season — but hockey players don’t typically get better in their 30s.

It’s why questions like the following are being asked in the local newspaper:

In retrospect, would a coach like Boudreau have been a better fit four years ago — a year after Yeo was hired, when the Wild made a bold push forward by signing Zach Parise and Ryan Suter — than he is now?

That is to say, do you have more confidence that the Wild’s window for winning a championship was wider in the past four years than it will be in the next four based on roster construction — including the fact that Parise and Suter will both be 32 by the middle of next season?

Fair questions, both of them. Unfortunately, time machines don’t exist, making them tough to answer.

But considering the aging core, perhaps Boudreau’s biggest challenge will be to take the young players on the roster — guys like Charlie Coyle, Mikael Granlund, Erik Haula, Jason Zucker, Nino Niederreiter, Jonas Brodin, and Matt Dumba — and make them even better. Because for all the talk about making the Wild “accountable,” the real upside on most teams is found in their youth.

To illustrate, take a team like San Jose, where Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau are each 36 years old. While those two can still play, a big reason for the Sharks’ success has been 27-year-old Logan Couture, their second-line center. Without him, where they would be? The answer is, probably not where they are right now.

So, can Coyle reach the level that Couture has reached? It’s a big ask, we realize that. But the Wild, as Thomas Vanek so helpfully pointed out in September, “don’t have maybe the strongest depth in the middle.”

Depth down the middle wasn’t the issue in Anaheim, where Getzlaf and Ryan Kesler are the top two centers. 

Boudreau won’t have that luxury in Minnesota.

For that reason, and a few more, turning the Wild around might be his toughest task yet.

Related: In Minnesota, skepticism greets Fletcher’s optimism

Boudreau wants Wild to play ‘fast and physical’

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Now that he’s been hired, the real work begins all over again for Bruce Boudreau.

On Saturday, Boudreau agreed to terms to become the newest head coach of the Minnesota Wild, a move that quickly took one of the most sought after available bench bosses off the market. He goes from the Anaheim Ducks, a Stanley Cup contender when the post-season began only to have their playoffs end in disappointment, to a Wild team that also lost in the opening round.

“We want to play fast. We want to be physical. But I told (GM Chuck Fletcher) the style will depend on the type of team. … I will adjust to what the personnel is and we’ll find a way to make that work,” Boudreau told the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

“In a perfect world, let’s score five goals every night. But when that doesn’t work, you better be able to defend.”

Boudreau taking the Wild’s coaching job wasn’t the only big news to come out of that franchise over the weekend.

Zach Parise, who didn’t play for the Wild in the playoffs due to a herniated disc in his back, will not undergo surgery. He was hopeful, at least in late-April, that he’d be ready for training camp.

“We decided not to do the surgery, and the doctors said that with how well I’ve been progressing — at the beginning they said that they would do it and after a while they said that the progress was going so well that they didn’t think I would need it anymore. That was a good sign,” Parise told the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Wild agree to make Bruce Boudreau next head coach (Updated)

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Well, that didn’t take long.

Bruce Boudreau is set to become the new head coach of the Minnesota Wild, eliminating one of the available (and coveted) coaching candidates on the open market this off-season.

The Wild just announced they had agreed to terms with Boudreau to become the club’s next head coach. The news comes soon after reports surfaced Saturday that Minnesota had made a big push to land Boudreau after he interviewed with the Ottawa Senators.

Michael Russo of the Minneapolis Star Tribune provided the detail of contract term just before the Wild made the announcement.

Updated:

Anaheim Ducks general manager Bob Murray, who fired Boudreau after a first-round loss to Nashville, released a statement shortly after the Wild made the announcement.

“On behalf of the club, congratulations to Bruce and the Minnesota Wild,” said Murray, as per the L.A. Times. “Although coaching changes are extremely difficult, we felt that Bruce would be back behind the bench quickly. Everyone in the organization is very pleased he’s getting another deserved opportunity.”

Report: Wild making a big push to land Boudreau as next head coach (Updated)

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It seems the competition for Bruce Boudreau’s coaching services has really heated up these last few days.

The Minnesota Wild have, according to reports, made a big push to land Boudreau, who was fired from the Anaheim Ducks after losing in the opening round to Nashville last week. He was scheduled to interview with the Ottawa Senators on Friday.

From the Minneapolis Star Tribune:

Before the former Anaheim Ducks and Washington Capitals coach even left Canada’s capital city on Saturday after interviewing for the Sens’ job the day before, it’s believed the Wild extended a long-term contract offer.

General Manager Chuck Fletcher would only say Saturday that the “process is ongoing” and he doesn’t want to speculate further. Other sources, however, were optimistic Boudreau was enticed by the Wild offer, although one warned nothing was final. Boudreau had a flight scheduled back to California from Ottawa on Saturday afternoon.

Update:

The report from the Tribune also states that Minnesota’s interim coach John Torchetti, who took over after Mike Yeo was fired, interviewed for the Wild coaching job on Monday.

As for Boudreau, it became evident right away that he wanted to quickly return to coaching in the NHL after he was dismissed in Anaheim. And it seems imminent a new deal is on the way.

 

 

One of the two? Sens will interview Boudreau on Friday

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Ottawa’s search for a new head coach is moving along quickly.

Just one day after owner Eugene Melnyk said the Sens would be down to a two-person shortlist by Friday, the Ottawa Sun reported that Bruce Boudreau would interview for the bench boss gig tomorrow.

Tomorrow… which is Friday.

Boudreau’s the latest in a long line of coaching prospects brought in GM Pierre Dorion. Others include Mike Yeo, Marc Crawford, Guy Boucher, Randy Carlyle and Kevin Dineen.

Boudreau, fired by the Ducks last week, is in hot demand. Bleacher Report’s Adrian Dater reported Calgary has already made an offer, and it’s believed the Minnesota Wild have also reached out, though GM Chuck Fletcher remains unclear what he plans to do with interim bench boss John Torchetti.

As for the Senators, there could be one more coach in the running to crack said shortlist:

Bob Hartley.

Dismissed by Calgary earlier this week, Hartley is seen as a good fit for the Sens gig. He speaks French, which is a bonus for a bi-lingual city like Ottawa, and has ties to player development coach Shean Donovan (Hartley coached Donovan in both Colorado and Atlanta)

Hartley’s also liked by former GM and current special advisor Bryan Murray, who nearly hired Hartley back in 2008 — but instead opted for Craig Hartsburg.

From the Globe:

[Murray] narrowed his search to Hartsburg, former Colorado Avalanche Stanley Cup championship coach Bob Hartley and highly regarded junior coach Peter DeBoer of the Kitchener Rangers. DeBoer beat Hartsburg in the OHL Western Conference final this season, 4-1. They emerged as the two finalists for the job.

Both met earlier this week with Senators owner Eugene Melnyk, who said he wanted to become familiar with both as well as “have a couple of beers and pizza.” The final decision was up to Murray, and Hartsburg became the man.

“I was impressed with all of them,” Murray said. “[Hartley’s]presentation was excellent and I can see why he’s had success.

Other candidates believed to be in the running for the Ottawa job are Kings assistant John Stevens, and Blues assistant Brad Shaw.