The 20th coach in Vancouver Canucks history has arrived.
After Travis Green was let go by the Canucks on Sunday, Bruce Boudreau caught a red-eye flight on Francesco Aquilini’s private plane to join the Canucks on Monday morning.
This is Boudreau’s fourth opportunity to coach an NHL team, after previous stints with the Washington Capitals, Anaheim Ducks, and Minnesota Wild.
Here are seven things you should know about the newest head coach of the Canucks.
1. Gretzky grew up idolizing Boudreau
It’s hard to ask for higher praise than this.
“The Great One” holds a dizzying number of NHL records. However, before he tore up the NHL for two decades, a young Gretzky grew up idolizing Boudreau.
As a junior player with the Toronto Malboros, Boudreau set some notable single-season OHA records, highlighted by 68 goals and 165 points in 69 games back in 1974-75.
The Malboros happened to be Gretzky’s favourite OHA team.
Boudreau only met Gretzky about 10 years ago. Ironically enough, the two had their first drink together while Boudreau was on the road with the Anaheim Ducks in Vancouver.
Boudreau wasn’t sure he wanted to go, he called his wife and she talked him into it. The dinner was amazing, Gretzky had watched Boudreau play junior in Toronto and knew all of his OHL records (he actually broke some of them). Boudreau was amazed and flattered that 99 was a fan. pic.twitter.com/z91VAlM5wI
— Gord Miller (@GMillerTSN) December 7, 2021
Their meeting has blossomed into a friendship. Boudreau mentioned that after he was fired by the Ducks, Gretzky called him and invited him to his golf course to have some fun.
“I just thought, man, this guy has got so many people to talk about and to do, and so many things to do, and he’s reaching out to me at this time,” Boudreau said during a radio interview. “I thought that was pretty special.”
2. He really values his sleep
Don’t we all?
Prior to Gretzky and Boudreau initially meeting in Vancouver, the Canucks coach actually blew off the greatest NHLer of all-time years prior.
In that same radio interview, Boudreau mentioned that he got a call from Gretzky while he was coaching in the minors. His wife picked up a phone call and told her husband that it was Gretzky on the line.
Instead of jumping at the opportunity to meet up with “The Great One,” Boudreau told his wife that he was about to have his pre-game nap, and that he’d call him back later.
Well, it wasn’t until years later that the two actually met in person.
Clearly, Boudreau is someone who values his rest. Here’s another anecdote from his time with the Wild.
the canucks new head coach pic.twitter.com/OAc6U4VcpH
— rypper (@canucksprayoffs) December 6, 2021
3. Had a role in “Slap Shot”
Commonly known as one of the best hockey movies of all time, this prominent film featured Boudreau in a minor role.
The young centreman began the season in the NAHL with the Johnstown Jets (the location of the film) before moving up to the WHA with the Minnesota Fighting Saints.
At the end of the season, Boudreau’s agent recommended he go back to Johnstown to finish out his season and have some fun.
Years later, Boudreau questioned his decision.
“Well, it sounds great at the time here, but I could’ve signed with Toronto [Maple Leafs] right then and got an extra year of them seeing me play in the NHL or play in their No. 1 minor-league team. So I think I made the wrong decision, but it ended up a lot of fun.”
In the clip below, Boudreau is wearing #7.
4. Arrested for streaking
Speaking of things Boudreau probably regrets, he wrote about one particular incident in his book “Gabby: Confessions of a Hockey Lifer.”
Two weeks prior to the NHL draft in 1975, Boudreau and two friends were arrested for indecent exposure at a bar in Toronto.
“We went into one bathroom, and I stripped naked and put my underwear over my head,” Boudreau wrote in his book.
“Two plainclothes cops happened to be in the bar checking for underage drinking and saw us streak. Great luck, right?”
5. Known to drop the occasional F-bomb
Boudreau became famous for this during HBO’s “Penguins/Capitals: Road to the Winter Classic” back in 2010.
There was one rant in particular where Boudreau was filmed using a particular cuss word 15 times in a minute.
He even got a phone call from his mom about his heavy use of profanity.
Although his Canucks tenure is mere hours old, we’ve already heard a cuss word slip out during his first press conference.
6. Prolific minor league scorer
While the “hockey lifer” never stuck around as a full-time NHLer, Boudreau is considered one of the most prolific minor league scorers in hockey history.
In the AHL, Boudreau is 16th all-time in goals (316), 13th in assists (483), and 12th in points (799).
His 1.26 points-per-game mark in the AHL is second all-time. He was inducted into the AHL Hall of Fame back in 2009.
7. Won Jack Adams in first year as coach
What Boudreau pulled off in his first season with the Washington Capitals was nothing short of remarkable.
The Capitals started their 2007-08 season 6-14-2 before firing head coach Glen Hanlon. That was when Boudreau earned his opportunity.
Washington promoted Boudreau from Hershey after Hanlon was dismissed. From there, the rookie NHL head coach led the Capitals on a 37-17-7 run, which was just enough for them to earn a spot in the postseason.
That lightning-fast turnaround led to him winning the Jack Adams in his first season as an NHL head coach. It was also a sign of things to come, as Boudreau currently has the third-best winning percentage (.637) in NHL history (minimum 500 games coaches) with a 567-302-115 record.