On Friday afternoon, the Vancouver Canucks announced that Bruce Boudreau would be returning as the head coach of the team for the 2022-23 season.
Bruce, there it is chants will go on for another season, and the questions about the head coach’s future in Vancouver were put to rest.
Boudreau met with the media on a Zoom call from a golf cart where he just wrapped up his second round of the year.
Boudreau began the zoom call by answering questions about the future of his coaching staff. Boudreau brought Scott Walker with him to join Brad Shaw, Jason King, and Kyle Gustafson to round out his staff last season.
He was asked about the future of his current assistants and if he had an idea of who was going to be beside him on the bench next season.
“Right now, Patrik and Jim, mostly Patrik, are reviewing everybody,” said Boudreau. “I’m sure that’s where it all stands. We’re all in a review mode. I’ve been sort of out of the loop for the last two weeks. So, everything is coming at me today. Right now, I think the best thing to say is everything and everybody is under review. It started with me. I’m back and we’ll move on to other people.”
With an entire offseason, management will be able to assess what worked for Boudreau last season and if changes need to be made prior to the 2022-23 season.
The conversation turned to analytics as Boudreau spoke about dealing with Aiden Fox and wanting to be more involved in working with and understanding how advanced statistics, situational tendencies, and other pieces of data can help him in the coming years.
“I want to get better at analytics,” said Boudreau. “I want to know it more and understand it more. So, I will be dealing with Aiden [Fox] much more this summer and fall than I did last year. That’s something that I really want to get on.”
As we remember, Rutherford said, “our exits from our own zone are not good. Probably one of the worst in the league”. Boudreau was asked about Jim Rutherford’s comments on the team’s structure and zone exits.
“What Jim [Rutherford] was talking about is probably that I wasn’t paying as close attention to all of these things as I should have, and we will get better at it,” said Boudreau. “My whole focus was on wins and losses and how it was affecting us. I probably use different terminology than ‘exits and entries’ and all of those things but I will pay closer attention. I will study these things during the course of the summer. I will know exactly what we’re talking about and I will correct it. Whatever that problem was, it’s going to be corrected.”
Rutherford’s comments about structure and zone exits sent many people toward the conclusion that the Canucks were dissatisfied with Boudreau as a coach to some extent. Boudreau mentioned early on in the availability that there were personal reasons that kept him from choosing to return to the Canucks. He spoke about his 90-year-old mother and making sure she was going to be okay in Ontario as well as dealing with the junior team in Coon Rapids, Minnesota that he is a part-owner of.
There was a lot of talk about building on the momentum that the team created during the final 57 games of the 2021-22 season. Boudreau learned a lot about the players on the roster and was impressed with the play of the top-end guys.
“I really didn’t know much about any of the players. So I mean, a lot of the guys shocked me. When you’re in the East, you don’t get to see how good these guys are, or how great the people are. I knew everybody talked about Demko being a good goaltender but I didn’t realize that he was as good as he is. I didn’t realize Quinn Hughes was as good as he is and is able to do what he could do. J.T. Miller, Elias Pettersson, and Bo Horvat — these are players that you can grow teams with and that’s what excites me.”
When it came to being a coach without a contract past next season, there was no worry from the 67-year-old coach. He’s been around this game long enough to feel confident in his current role and mentioned that a two-year deal was what is agreed to and he isn’t worried about anything past next season.
“I have no fear of going in with one year. I don’t feel I’m a lame duck. I feel like I’ve got the support of management and we’re going to go in and we’re going to put our best foot forward. I’m not going to worry about anything else other than the team, and contracts will not come up at all during the course of the year.”
As for the summer, Boudreau plans to help build a team when called upon by management but knows that his role is to coach the team that is given to him. He expects to see every player come to camp in good shape and will work them hard so that the team won’t take any steps back from what they built in the second half of this most recent season.
“We’ll put a great plan [together] for the summer and the players will come in in excellent shape. I can tell you that. I’ve been doing this a long time and one of the things that they will know is that [my] training camps aren’t easy. I might be a little old school and everything like that. But I mean when you’re in Vancouver where you’re going to lose approximately 12 to 15 practice days a year in travel more than other teams — you have to be in great shape. Training camp is where you’re going to get in great shape and we plan on being hopefully the best-conditioned team in the league.”
Now that Boudreau is confirmed as the coach for next season, the Canucks’ management is not under pressure for player evaluations and contract situations. Brock Boeser is a restricted free agent and needs a contract before this coming season. We are also less than two months away from the 2022 draft where the Canucks will be selecting 15th overall in the first round.
Locking in their coach for the 2022-23 season was the first tick on the Canucks’ offseason checklist and they can now move on to building an improved roster so that Boudreau is given every opportunity to get his team into a playoff spot next season.