Bruce Boudreau

Boudreau gets contract extension; now it’s time to deliver


Bruce Boudreau has some additional financial security heading into the 2014-15 season. The Anaheim Ducks have extended his contract two years, guaranteeing the head coach a paycheck through 2016-17.

“Bruce has done a very good job over the last several years, and deserves the opportunity to take this team deep into the playoffs,” said Ducks GM Bob Murray in a statement. “We’re happy to have this contract complete before training camp, so our complete focus can be on winning hockey games.”

Boudreau is an impressive 312-143-62 as an NHL coach. The former Capitals bench boss, hired by Anaheim after being fired by Washington in 2011, said in a statement that he is “determined not only to win, but to do it here, for this organization that has treated me so well. I can’t wait for training camp to get started.”

Now the pressure’s on Boudreau to deliver. With an extended contract, plus the addition of center Ryan Kesler, the Ducks head into the season with Stanley Cup aspirations, but also with just two playoff series victories since winning it all in 2007.

Boudreau thinks Heatley’s a better fit with Perry/Getzlaf than Penner

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The Anaheim Ducks took a chance last season on the idea that Dustin Penner could play on their top line after averaging just 12:41 minutes per game in 2013 with Los Angeles.

Penner had 13 goals and 32 points in 49 games until Anaheim decided to trade him to the Washington Capitals, where he played a much smaller role and consequently saw his production plummet. With that experiment in the books, the Ducks will once again try to pair up Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry with a veteran forward that has struggled in recent years. This time around, it’s Dany Heatley that will get a shot on the team’s first line after signing a one-year, $1 million contract.

“Every time we’ve played (Heatley), he’s been a dangerous player,” Boudreau told “I think we can try him with Getzlaf and Perry. We tried Dustin Penner there … I think this can work better.”

Heatley reached the 50-goal mark in back-to-back seasons, but he’s been on the decline since his peak in 2006-07. He had just 12 goals and 28 points in 76 games in 2013-14.

At the age of 33, he’s hoping to prove that he’s not in the twilight of his career yet and he’ll get that opportunity in Anaheim.

Boudreau doesn’t know how Ducks goalie situation will ‘shake out’

Bruce Boudreau

For better or worse, Anaheim Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau seems to be the type who “rides the hot hand” with goalies rather than sticking with a No. 1 guy no matter what. It’s easy to foresee such a situation repeating itself next season, too.

While Jason LaBarbera represents an emergency backup plan for a variety of situations, the battle comes down to two promising-yet-largely-untested options in Frederik Andersen and John Gibson. Boudreau’s assessment of the situation to is honest, if nothing else:

“We think we’ve got two really good goalies and an experienced, veteran goalie,” Boudreau said. “I think we’re OK there, I just don’t know how it will shake out.”

Quite a bargain

The Ducks are taking an interesting and calculated gamble with their goalies.

Whether it’s Andersen – Gibson, Gibson – LaBarbera or Andersen – LaBarbera, the combined cap hit never rises above $2 million. In a league brimming with contenders who have made beefy, long-term commitments to a position that’s often erratic, Anaheim enjoys rare flexibility.

Of course, the flip side is that they face even more uncertainty than usual; while LaBarbera is an experienced (if unremarkable) journeyman at 34, Gibson, 21, and Andersen, 24, combine for 42 NHL appearances counting the regular season and playoffs.

Hindsight will dictate if the Ducks’ strategy will be considered brilliant or foolish, yet it falls into the larger narrative quite well.

Boudreau and goalies

It’s easy to beat up on the Boudreau for a tendency to rotate netminders, but it’s also fair to note that he’s rarely been handed a reliable top goalie. As great as Semyon Varlamov was last season in Colorado, he never managed to play more than 27 regular season games for the Washington Capitals in large part because of injury issues. Departed Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller suffered from his own bad luck and his numbers dipped when he was able to play. It’s difficult to argue that Boudreau has enjoyed any better long-term options through the years, so it’s not as if he’s flippantly benching people like a more robust Mike Keenan.

Long story short, it’s easier to criticize Boudreau’s practices than it is to point out what precisely he should have done differently, yet the Ducks face arguably more uncertainty than ever in net going into the 2014-15 season.

It’s interesting to note that Anaheim has been unusually willing to let goalies walk, too. Many franchises would cling to a Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe-winner like Jean-Sebastien Giguere, yet they transitioned to Hiller quite seamlessly and also parted ways with a then-promising backup in Ilya Bryzgalov. One could argue that the GM and coach see eye-to-eye on this matter as much as any in Anaheim, really.


The Ducks have been a fixture in the playoff picture through many of these seasons, but Boudreau has never coached a conference final series in the NHL. Being less chained to goalies might actually be the best strategy, yet it could be one of the talking points if this coach continues to fall short of expectations in the postseason.

Of course, the advantage is simple enough: the Ducks can easily hit the “Reset” button once again if this doesn’t work out.