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give Bruce his due


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Bruce Boudreau has always been an enigma to me, he took over a loaded Capitals team, had them play at or near an elite level but could not get them over the top.

He was a player of limited ability, he played parts of eight seasons in the 1970s with the Leafs and Hawks after starting his career with the Fighting Saints in the WHA.

In eight seasons in the NHL he played 141 games, scoring 28 goals and 42 assists for 70 points, with 46 PIMs. He was not the 13th forward, he was a Chris Conner, toiling in the AHL until a couple of injuries at least forced a call up. After his last call up in 1986 by the Hawks for 7 games, he played another six seasons in the minors, first the ahl the the IHL before someone ripped the uniform off finally and told him he was done. He is currently eighth all time in minor league scoring, with 1,368 points.

Bruce Boudreau was, in fact, in the classic hockey film Slap Shot, shot in Johnstown and released in 1977. I did some digging and found the YouTube clip, which IDs Boudreau as #7 in green for the Presidents.

Just how long has Boudreau been around? Well, consider that he's probably watched Slap Shot more than any living person in history, not that he'd have to because he lived it. The Johnstown Jets were the Minnesota Fighting Saints farm team and when the movie was being shot in 1975, Boudreau was in his rookie pro season and was used for many of the on-ice scenes.

No speaking role, though.

"I pretty much just hung around the camera – I was a bit of a hot dog," Boudreau said. "I show it to my kids now just to prove to them that one day I had hair."

Nothing ever came easy for Bruce, after retiring he became a very succesful coach in the minors, coaching and winning for twenty years before finally getting his shot with the Capitals in 2007. In his three full seasons as Capitals coach, the team had over 100 points every season, having the three best records in club history. Playoff success eluded him and he was fired last year after a sluggish start.The Capitals are sluggish this season under Adam Oates, with a 5-9-1 record worst in the East.

Boudreau took over for Randy Carlyle in Anaheim last year, the ducks were 7-13-4 when he took over, under his leadership they went 27-23-8 the rest of the way, missing the playoffs.

Nobody gave the team a chance this year, everyone expected a fire sale, with Getzlaf and Perry due to hit the free agent market everyone expected wholesale changes everything I read had the Ducks finishing at best 12th, 13th in the west, if everything broke right. Everyone wrote the team off.

Everyone but Boudreau.

He has built this team in to a four lines deep talented club that nobody wants to face on any given night. They are second in the West, with a 12-2-1 record only four points behind the Blackhawks for the best record in hockey. The man can flat out coach and is a true hockey man, he deserves credit for what he did in Washington and what he is doing with the Ducks.

And on HBOs 24/7 he was unleashed, he was fun to watch, no filter, every third word an F bomb. Stalkiong around the locker room like an obscene little Alfred Hitchcock lookalike, he was the star of the series so far.

Go Bruce go. Nothing came easy for this guy, always too small, too slow, having to prove himself as a coach for twnety years in places like Mississippi, Fort Wayne and Muskegon before finally given his chance, he is the hero of the everyman, I wish him all the luck in the world the rest of the way.

Edited by yave1964
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