What About Bruce?
After last night’s Hershey victory in Game 1 of the East Division semifinal series with the Albany River Rats, Bears coach Bruce Boudreau was asked whether he was surprised that center Dave Steckel hadn’t seen more NHL action to date in his career. It’s a legitimate question; there are many of us who believe Steckel belongs in the NHL.
Here’s another question. What about Boudreau? Doesn’t he belong in the NHL, too? I think so.
Boudreau has been in the coaching racket for the better part of two decades now, and the guy just wins everywhere he goes. Here’s a look at his head coaching résumé:
28-27-5-0 in one season in the Colonial Hockey League.
56-30-0-14 in the IHL, with one appearance in the finals in his two seasons.
109-75-26-0 in the ECHL, with one Kelly Cup championship in his three seasons.
332-209-49-48 in the AHL, with one Calder Cup championship and the possiblity of another in eight seasons.
That’s 525-341-80-62 in 1,008 games, according to the figures on hockeydb.com. Two championships.
Throw in the playing career and you’re talking about 2,500 games spread over three decades. More miles than money, more buses than bucks.
Look around the NHL. How many current head coaches in the league won Calder Cup championships before they were promoted to The Show? More than you’d think: Philadelphia’s John Stevens, Calgary’s Jim Playfair, Carolina’s Peter Laviolette, Atlanta’s Bob Hartley, Tampa Bay’s John Tortorella and Nashville’s Barry Trotz. That’s 20 percent of all the coaches in the NHL. It’s probably worth noting that half those guys (Laviolette, Hartley and Tortorella) have also won the Stanley Cup.
All six of those guys are younger than Boudreau, who is 52.
Playoffs are all about adjusting. With his team down a goal in the series opener last night, Boudreau challenged a few of his players to step up, and tweaked his lines a bit. Hershey came out flying. The Bears outshot the Rats 20-2 in the third period, and erased a 2-1 deficit to win the game. Boudreau has a finger on the pulse of his team, knows where the buttons are, and knows when and how to push them. Boudreau doesn’t go around talking about the books he’s read or spouting philosophy, war theory or some of that high-brow stuff you’ll get from some coaches. But he’s smart. Hockey smart. And sly like fox. Isn’t that what you want from a coach?
So yeah, Steckel belongs in the NHL. But so does Boudreau. And another lengthy playoff run might just lift him up where he belongs.