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Boudreau still getting used to new life on West Coast

Wednesday, 12.14.2011 / 1:41 PM / NHL Insider

By Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

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Boudreau still getting used to new life on West Coast
Bruce Boudreau lost one job and found another on the other side of the U.S. It's been a tough go for the Ducks' coach, but he's still having fun

The other side of the change a challenge, too


As Bruce Boudreau attempts to start over in Anaheim, his wife Crystal and 13-year-old son Brady are back in Washington. He hasn't seen them since he left for his new job on the West Coast two weeks ago.

"That's a difference and a little bit of a struggle," Boudreau told NHL.com. "But my wife has been great. She's been the rock."

Boudreau said his family is coming to visit him next week, but he's been worrying about uprooting Brady, who is in eighth grade.

He said Brady has made the move easier on him.

"He was really supportive, as well. He took (the move) better than I did," Boudreau said. "Quite frankly, before I went to the Caps the Ducks were always his favorite team just because of the age he is. He must have watched the 'Mighty Ducks' movies 150 times. There was always that connection with him, so he was pretty pumped it happened so quick.

"I was worried about his reaction, and he was stronger than I was."

Boudreau's ties to Washington remain strong not only because his family and friends still are there, but part of his heart is, as well. He spent four years behind the Capitals' bench, helping the club create an identity through success that brought so many hockey fans in the Beltway out of hiding.

"It was the best four years of my life and a week or two later you don't just walk away from that," Boudreau said. "I get calls every single day from people in the D.C. area, so it's hard to let that all of a sudden slip away and not think about it."

He still follows the Capitals because, "there are an awful lot of players there that I have real affection for and sort of watched grow up." However, Ducks fans need not worry because Boudreau said he's looking forward to duplicating his experience in Southern California.

"I am all for the Ducks," he said. "Hopefully this is just another adventure in my life. And if it can bring anywhere near the same memories that I have had in the last four years, I'd be grateful."

-- Dan Rosen
Bruce Boudreau uses two words to describe his transition to Anaheim over the past two weeks.

"Settling in," he told NHL.com during a 15-minute phone interview Tuesday.

Boudreau figures he will be doing exactly that for a while as he adjusts to life on an unfamiliar coast, in a different conference, away from his family and the comfort zone he called home for four years as the successful coach of the Washington Capitals.

Wednesday's game against Phoenix at Honda Center will be Boudreau's sixth behind the Ducks' bench. He's won only one of his first five (1-3-1), a record that's making his transition from the Capitals to the Ducks even more challenging than it was going to be for a coach coming to a last-place team less than three days after he lost what was, for all intents and purposes, his dream job.

"I would have loved to come in here and won the first five games, and quite frankly a bounce here and a bounce there, we should have won four out of five minimum," said Boudreau, who won 202 games and four Southeast Division titles as the coach in Washington. "But the work ethic is there and the belief that we're going to win games is there."

Boudreau called his introduction to Anaheim "pretty much a roller-coaster ride" that began one day after he was fired by the Capitals on Nov. 28.

The next day, he started talking to Ducks GM Bob Murray. He boarded a flight to Anaheim late on the morning of Nov. 30 and said he had an idea that he would be taking over as coach, but Randy Carlyle had not yet been fired and Boudreau still hadn't seen a contract.

Carlyle was fired later that night and the Ducks announced that Boudreau had signed on as his replacement in a press release that was sent out at 10:21 p.m. PT, exactly 65 hours and 25 minutes after the Capitals issued a press release that Dale Hunter was taking over for Boudreau.

The Ducks played five games in Boudreau's first 10 days, including the last two in St. Louis and Nashville. It wasn't until early this week that Anaheim had consecutive days of practices under Boudreau, who still is trying to get to know the team and meet all the players on an individual basis.

The only two Ducks players Boudreau already knew or previously coached before arriving in Anaheim were Andrew Gordon (Washington) and George Parros (Manchester of the AHL).

"A lot of them, I don't know their backgrounds or anything of that nature, so I find it important to know who you're dealing with," Boudreau said. "Bob Murray has given me tremendous support. That's what has been really good about it -- he's been very supportive and helping me along. The transition is coming along better than expected considering I didn't really know what to expect."

Boudreau said his biggest challenge has been introducing his style, philosophy and tactics to the players. It's far different from when he took over in Washington four years ago because he was brought in from the Capitals' minor-league team in Hershey, where he coached, among others, Brooks Laich, Mike Green and Jeff Schultz.

"I could say to Brooks Laich, 'We're doing the neutral-zone drill here, remember how we used to do it.' Now I have nobody to say that to," Boudreau said. "We're going from scratch with everybody. It's easier when players know what you're doing. It's the same thing with the power play. In Washington it was mostly left-handed guys and we worked from the left side with Nicklas Backstrom. Here we work it from the right side.

"It's challenging, but that's what makes it exciting."

Boudreau is trying to get that excitement to spread throughout the team by consistently hammering home the message that they are way better than their 8-16-5 record indicates. He's been showing videos and doing a lot of teaching, but the getting it all to show through in game situations has not been easy because, as veteran Teemu Selanne said, the Ducks are suffering from a crisis of confidence.

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"We have tried everything and there's a lot of nights that there are a lot of things missing," Selanne said. "Obviously the confidence is the biggest issue right now. I think we can all do it, but for some reason our team is so fragile right now. One bad mistake, it seems to me every time it's in our own net. We can't get any breaks. But we still believe we have a good team here and we can turn this around. It has been a tough road so far and it's a big challenge for us to turn this around."

Boudreau turned around Washington almost immediately. The Capitals were a last-place team when he got there in November 2007, but they won 37 of their final 61 games to clinch the first of four straight division titles.

He sees similarities in Anaheim, mainly in the star power of the personnel.

"I think Cam Fowler is a young Mike Green," Boudreau said. "You have your big group of Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Bobby Ryan and Teemu Selanne, just like you have Alex Ovechkin, Alex Semin, Nicklas Backstrom and Brooks Laich. The core group is sort of similar in stature."

Boudreau always felt he got along well with the star players in Washington and anticipates the same happening in Anaheim.

His entire coast-to-coast transition will be made a heck of a lot easier if the Ducks start winning soon.

"I know what we need to do and it's easier said than done, but right now we need a 10-game winning streak or to win 15 out of 20," Boudreau said. "If we do that, we're back in the hunt. It's not easy to do in this division and with the amount of road games we play in a row, but we're getting (Lubomir) Visnovsky back and then (Saku) Koivu and Jason Blake -- then the team all of a sudden has balance.

"I've seen 'Moneyball,' so I know even the A's were a last-place team that won 20 in a row. It can happen."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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