Photo credit:Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
‘Some days, he’s not there’: Bruce Boudreau talks Andrei Kuzmenko’s benching
By Mike Gould2 months ago
Andrei Kuzmenko hasn’t exactly had the best start to his second season as a member of the Vancouver Canucks.
The 27-year-old winger, who signed a two-year deal back in January to remain with the Canucks through the end of the 2024–25 season, ranks sixth on the team in scoring with 14 points in 19 games. After netting 39 goals in 2022–23, Kuzmenko has just three so far and is on pace for just 13 this year.
That projection is based on Kuzmenko playing a full 82-game season, which won’t happen this year. Canucks head coach Rick Tocchet has elected to make Kuzmenko a healthy scratch for the last two games, raising questions about what has to happen to get the Russian forward back on track.
On Monday’s edition of Donnie & Dhali – The Team on CHEK TV, hosts Rick Dhaliwal and Don Taylor asked former Canucks head coach Bruce Boudreau — who was replaced by Tocchet midway through the 2022–23 season — about his experience coaching Kuzmenko.
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“I’m sure Rick’s going through the same thing — I mean, some days, he was great, and some days, he was not there,” Boudreau said. “Evidently, he’s trying to send a message. I mean, we did the same thing early last year. I sat him out in Toronto, I think, or somewhere close to there. And, I mean, he got the message, caught on fire, and had the year that he did.”
Kuzmenko’s contract with the Canucks carries a $5.5 million cap hit. He finished the 2022–23 season in fourth place on the Canucks with 74 points, behind Elias Pettersson (102), J.T. Miller (82), and Quinn Hughes (76).
To hear Boudreau tell it, making Kuzmenko a healthy scratch is just part of the reality of being a head coach in the NHL.
“He wasn’t playing well enough under Rick. That’s what Rick thought, that’s it,” Boudreau said. “This has happened to Johnny Gaudreau, it’s happened to Huberdeau, it’s happened to everybody. Coaches are just making them accountable. That’s good coaching.”
After falling by a 4–3 score to the San Jose Sharks on Sunday, it’s not out of the question that the Canucks could bring Kuzmenko back into the lineup when they play host to the Anaheim Ducks at Rogers Arena on Tuesday evening.
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