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.”
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.