When the Canucks announced that Bruce Boudreau would be returning behind the bench for a full season, it was supposed to spell the end of mixed messaging and planning in the organization.
But if Boudreau’s Tuesday radio appearance on Sportsnet 650 was any indication, there’s still a ways to go before everyone is delivering the same message.
A number of Boudreau’s quotes seemed to contradict excerpts from recent interviews with Canucks president of hockey operations Jim Rutherford since the season finale in April. Especially when it comes to the team’s current capabilities, a situation Rutherford publicly feels is in need of some important additions.
“We were fighting right to the end. And then the 56 games, our record was better than an awful lot of teams. And they weren’t teams that were taking us lightly, there were teams that had to win,” Boudreau said. “So I really believe that we’ll bring that same sort of ability, and we’re healthier next year. I’m just really excited and look forward to it.”
One particular sticking point seemed to be comments Rutherford recently made about the team’s issues with puck possession on zone entries and exits. Boudreau said that even though he and management are “always on the same page”, he feels the advanced stats don’t tell the full story when it comes to the Canucks’ blue line.
“We may not have had the best entries or exits or whatever. But we were a top-five defensive team in the league so we must have done something else right that helped us.”
While it’s unclear what specific defensive stat Boudreau is referring to, the likeliest option is even-strength goals against. The Canucks allowed just 143 goals at 5v5, the third least in the league behind only Calgary and Carolina.
However, Vancouver’s success in that category can just as easily be attributed to the great play of Thatcher Demko. When asked about Demko’s value to the team Boudreau was complimentary but seemed to bristle at any notions that the team was over-reliant on the young netminder.
“It’s a point of contention. I agree that we rely on the goalie, but every team relies on their goalie,” Boudreau said. “I sort of poopoo the assessment that your goalie kept you in it and everything.”
“[Demko] was great, but I’ve never seen a team that was any good not have a great goaltender that kept them in it most nights and you’re gonna see no matter who ends up winning the Stanley Cup this year, that it’s usually the goalie that ends up being the best player on the ice. We’re lucky to have him and I’m not going to apologize for having great goaltending.”
When it comes to his current expectations for next season’s roster, Boudreau was mum on any specific plans. But the Canucks’ head coach already has expectations heading into next season, and feels that the roster currently assembled is still well equipped to handle the job.
“I think we have a pretty good roster if everybody’s healthy. And everybody has this same attitude that we had last year when we were healthy. I mean, we played good teams, and we won. And so that gives me the thought process that we can do it again,” Boudreau said.
“Another year of other guys getting older, more experienced playing with their partners, healthy, I think will make us a much better team. And I can’t wait to get started and can’t wait to see, you know, if what I’m thinking is gonna come true.”
With these types of comments coming off the heels of some pretty different quotes from his president of hockey operations (which we broke down yesterday) it will be very interesting to see how much the make up of this roster changes this summer. Between a management team that’s approaching this offseason with a firm eye on both the present and the future, and a bench boss that likes what he already has, finding common ground on talent is going to be crucial.
Either way, expect to see a more unified public front at the start of training camp in September.
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