When most people believe their jobs are in danger, they naturally try to “lay low.” Slinking under the radar just doesn’t seem to suit Washington Capitals head coach Bruce Boudreau, though.
Going into the 2011-12 season, the Versus crew tabbed Boudreau as one of the coaches on “the hot seat.” If Boudreau really is a few missteps away from being unemployed, it seems like he’ll go out with a bang.
To start off the season, he made the surprising decision to put Michal Neuvirth in net instead of Tomas Vokoun. That move drew a lot of criticism that was eventually quelled after Vokoun struggled mightily in his Capitals debut. (Curiously enough, the Capitals’ 2-0 record isn’t curtailing the critiques one bit.)
It seemed like a harsh spotlight would shine on Vokoun, but the focus shifted to Alex Ovechkin after Boudreau said that the team’s superstar captain has “a long way to go.” One cannot help but wonder if a rift might form between the coach and his star pupil. (Ovechkin’s “response” doesn’t exactly shut the door to such thoughts, either.)
So in about one week, Boudreau managed to:
- Stun and anger the guy who could be Washington’s first franchise goalie in years.
- Rub a $100 million player the wrong way.
- Win both games.
Ultimately, the wisdom of Boudreau’s moves comes down to perspective. Some will say that this shift is a long time coming after years in which stars like Ovechkin have been allegedly coddled. Others probably think that Boudreau is on the verge of losing his locker room (and subsequently, his job).
That debate won’t be truly settled until the season is over, but which way do you lean right now: is Boudreau heading down the right path or is he playing with fire?