In hockey circles, Bruce Boudreau is a well respected and lovable head coach who inherited a 6–14–1 Washington Capitals team in November of 2007 and was credited for turning them around. In the remainder of that 2007-08 season, the Capitals went 37-17-7 and captured their first of four consecutive Southeast Division titles. Boudreau himself was recognized for his work and was awarded the Jack Adams Trophy that honours the ‘NHL’s best’ head coach.
For the rest of us, he’s a man of limited vocabulary forced to express himself with a variety of f-bombs, curses and emphatic hand gestures. Look at him. He doesn’t even have the common decency to wipe away some wing sauce from his mouth before conducting an interview. (As an aside, if you’re the camera man or interviewer for HBO, how do you record this segment while maintaining composure and not tipping him off? Poor Bruce. He’ll live on in hockey infamy because of it.)
Regardless, since taking over the Washington Capitals, Boudreau has overseen an incredible amount of regular season success. With a record of 197-81-39, his career winning percentage of .683%, ranks him second all-time behind Tom Johnson (.738) and ahead of San Jose’s Todd McLellan (.678%).
Unfortunately for Bruce, the Capitals’ regular season success hasn’t translated into postseason success and in consequence, there’s a belief that the coach could be on the hotseat with another poor playoff performance. Interestingly, some of Boudreau’s recent decisions, like benching goaltender Tomas Vokoun for the first regular season game, have raised some eyebrows.
Like last night for example, down by a goal with one minute left in their game against the Anaheim Ducks, a timeout was called – allowing Boudreau to momentarily rest the personnel that he wanted on the ice for this high leverage situation. Instead of putting his most dynamic offensive player, Alexander Ovechkin, on the ice, Boudreau stapled his ass to the bench.
Here’s the video of what transpired during the timeout – keep an eye on what Ovechkin says after the fact.
Whether it’s the microcosm of analyzing a Stanley Cup contender that is faced with so many expectations, there’s a tendency to be an armchair coach and critique every decision. In this instance, the Capitals wound up scoring with 42 seconds left in the game and Ovechkin assisted on the game-winning goal in OT.
Nevertheless, it sure looked like Ovie disrespected his coach. Behind closed doors and away from the cameras, these kinds of disagreements happen all of time between a player and coach and as two of the most competitive people in the game, we should hardly be surprised.
Like Wayne Simmonds, Ovie will realize that the cameras are on him but it remains to be seen whether he’ll own it.