This Wednesday, it will be 10 years to the day since the Washington Capitals named Bruce Boudreau, then helming their AHL team, interim head coach on November 22, 2007.
Taking over a 6-14-1 Caps squad, Boudreau engineered a remarkable comeback, leading the Capitals to a Southeast Division title. It was Washington’s first playoff appearance in five years, and Boudreau won the Jack Adams Award as the NHL’s top bench boss for his efforts that year.
Over the next three-plus seasons, Boudreau helped the Capitals capture the Presidents’ Trophy as the league’s best regular season team for the first time. Things went south the next year, and Boudreau was fired just over four years after taking over the team, beginning the Dale Hunter era.
In 329 games, Boudreau posted a record of 201-88-40, becoming the fastest coach to reach 200 wins in NHL history.
Now head coach of the Minnesota Wild, Boudreau spoke to reporters about his memories of getting his first call-up to big leagues when his current team traveled through DC on Saturday.
Ten years ago this week was a significant moment in your career. Can I ask what you remember about that week specifically — getting the call in Hershey, what you even packed, how long you figured you were up here for?
Bruce Boudreau: Well, I remember jumping on the bed with the family. I remember phoning Wally [John Walton], ‘I think I’m lost. How do I get to the rink?’ [laughs] I remember it was probably the most exciting time of my life — in my hockey life anyway? It was tremendous. For four and a half years it was awesome.
What did you even pack? How long was it expected to be?
Bruce Boudreau: Oh, I don’t even know what I packed. I just got there. I brought a suitcase up to Kettler and I saw Brooks Laich and he said, ‘What are you doing here?’ I said, ‘Uh, I don’t know yet right now.’ I went in there and we had 30 minutes to practice. It was quite a hectic morning.
Did you believe that team could make the playoffs when you took over?
Bruce Boudreau: Yep. I honestly did believe that. I think we had to win 12 out of our last 13 to do it. The first thing I remember telling them was ‘I was here in training camp and I thought these guys were really good.’ I don’t know what happened. The thing they needed to do was start to believe in themselves. Once they started to believe in themselves they realized they were a good team. We had some budding superstars, and Nicky [Nicklas Backstrom] hadn’t played much and Mike Green hadn’t played much, and all the other guys we had in Hershey. The young guys didn’t have a lot of confidence. Once I got here they seemed to take off and play their game. It was really good.
Headline image: Jim Young
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