Colorado Avalanche: Bruce Boudreau Wrong for Avs Coach

Nov 2, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Anaheim Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau reacts on his bench in the first period against the Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Nov 2, 2014; Denver, CO, USA; Anaheim Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau reacts on his bench in the first period against the Colorado Avalanche at Pepsi Center. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports /

The Colorado Avalanche would not be improved by the addition of former Anaheim Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau.

I have a confession to make — I like the Anaheim Ducks. I think they have a solid roster with great systems, and they can be a lot of fun to watch. Plus, I think Corey Perry’s sophomore antics are hilarious:

In recent years, when the Colorado Avalanche have failed to make the playoffs, or have exited first round, the Anaheim Ducks are the team I cheer for the most. Indeed, I chose them to take all two years in a row, including in this season’s Stanley Cup playoffs bracket.

That said, I don’t know why they’ve failed to do so. I follow the Colorado Avalanche minutely, so I don’t take the time to analyze why I think Anaheim isn’t winning the Stanley Cup even Las Vegas bettors are imagining they are due.

The organization’s management has stated that, while it’s not specifically former Anaheim Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau’s fault , he’s no longer a good fit for the team. They relieved him of his duties with the following caveat, from GM Bob Murray:

"“I just think the last four years, the way they’ve ended, all very similar, that I didn’t think it would be a good situation to go forward in. In no way, shape or form is this pointing a gun at Bruce’s head. Let’s make that perfectly clear. But you’ve got to start somewhere.”"

Bruce Boudreau’s sudden availability as a coach has some Avs fans bemoaning the fact that there’s not a job open with the Colorado Avalanche.

Bruce Boudreau’s Career

Boudreau began his NHL coaching career as interim head coach of the Washington Capitals on November 22, 2007, after a successful minor leagues coaching career. One month later, the team made his appointment permanent. Under his coaching, Washington won their first division title in seven years and made the playoffs for the first time in five years.

Boudreau won the Jack Adams award for coaching that season.

The next two seasons, Boudreau coached the Capitals to two more division titles. Indeed, his third season as their coach heralded a President’s Trophy for best record in the NHL.

In his tenure with Washington, Boudreau reached 200 NHL wins in the shortest amount of time in the modern era. Despite his regular season success, post-season success eluded him as a coach — his team kept blowing series leads to eventually lose. When the Capitals struggled in the regular season, management fired Boudreau.

Bruce Boudreau had a similar path with the Anaheim Ducks. Except for the year he took over mid-season (2011-12), Anaheim made the playoffs in each of the four years he coached them. Indeed, all four of those years the Ducks won their division.

And all four of those years saw them exit in Game 7 on home ice. Indeed, all that regular season success (seven division titles) has been capped with only five series won in the playoffs.

Now, I’m well on record for my belief that players more than coaches should take the blame for failure:

Related Story: The Fallacy of Blaming the Coach

Indeed, Sports Illustrated shares that view of Boureau specifically, as does Bob Murray, who followed the above quote with damnation of the Ducks players:

"“Where were they? Where was the passion? They weren’t playing to win. They were playing not to lose. You can’t play hockey that way, and it was very disturbing to watch.”"

Nonetheless, this all highlights why Bruce Boudreau is wrong for the Colorado Avalanche.

Colorado Avalanche Have a Coach

Why is Bruce Boudreau wrong for the Colorado Avalanche? The immediate answer is pretty simple — we already have a coach, Patrick Roy.

I have been accused of “drinking the Kool Aid” in the “cult of Patrick Roy.” Guilty. However, that doesn’t mean my logic is flawed. Stay with me a moment, because the more in-depth answer to why Boudreau isn’t right for the Colorado Avalanche is two-fold.

First of all, the Anaheim Ducks have a stacked roster. They are big and experienced down the center. They have scoring wingers, good leadership, capable defense and decent goal tending. Anaheim also has great depth waiting for them in their farm system. Additionally, they have players who know how to get to and win in the playoffs, as evidenced by their playoff experience.

Yet Bruce Boudreau was unable to coach them to the Stanley Cup Finals, much less victory.

Now, let’s say for a moment that I’m wrong (as is Bob Murray) in pointing the finger at players over coaches. If a coach can’t take a stacked roster like the Anaheim Ducks to Stanley Cup victory, why is he going to be able to do so with a deeply flawed one such as the Colorado Avalanche?

Colorado has two somewhat smallish centers with relative inexperience — one of their top-two centers, Nathan MacKinnon (6-foot, 200 pounds), is only 20 years old. The other, 25-year-old Matt Duchene, is small — 5-foot-11, 200 pounds. Compare that to Anaheim’s top-two behemoths, 31-year-old Ryan Kesler (6-foot-2, 202 pounds) and 30-year-old Ryan Getzlaf (6-foot-4, 221 pounds).

The Avalanche centers are flanked by equally young and inexperienced wingers (relatively speaking), such as Gabriel Landeskog and Mikhail Grigorenko, old guys (38-year-old Jarome Iginla), or guys who shouldn’t be in the top-six (Blake Comeau). And we all know Colorado’s problems on defense and the inconsistent goal tending they’ve gotten the last two seasons.

Then you look at the AHL’s coffers, where the few good players available were mis-coached last season… No, Boudreau would not be stepping into a cherry system such as he did in Anaheim or even Washington. There’s no reason to think he’d have even the same success with the Colorado Avalanche, much less more.

And we want more. And we already have a coach committed to bringing us more, Patrick Roy. So here’s the second half of the rationale.

Some fans think the biggest impediment to bringing Boudreau to the Avalanche is Roy’s friendship with GM Joe Sakic. They played in Colorado for eight seasons and won two Stanley Cups together. Sakic is unlikely to fire his buddy.

No. Joe Sakic stated outright that he and Roy were “in this thing together.” The reason for that is that they have a vision of what they want to do with this team specifically, and said vision ends in Stanley Cup victory.

Sakic and Roy have inherited a deeply flawed team, and they’re working in conjunction to repair those deficits. That vision doesn’t work if you remove half of the visionaries. Sakic and Roy are working together to bring this team the ultimate prize, which they won in the first place together as players.

Joe Sakic never won a Stanley Cup without Patrick Roy. Roy brought the clutch goal tending and maniacal will to win as a player. He brings his savant hockey IQ and maniacal will to win to the team as a coach. Sakic needs both of those to help him rebuild the Avalanche.

Next: Avs Should Look at Ducks Free Agents

In short, scrapping Patrick Roy as a coach means starting from square one again in the rebuild. And that’s why Bruce Boudreau isn’t right for the Colorado Avalanche.