WASHINGTON, D.C. – Tonight marks the first return to Washington for head coach Bruce Boudreau, who spent four years as the bench boss of the Capitals (2007-11). Boudreau won the 2007-08 Jack Adams award and led the Capitals to the 2009-10 Presidents’ Trophy. He compiled a 201-88-40 record (.672) and won the Southeast Division four times.
After the morning skate, Boudreau was met by a large group of media memeber. Below is a transcription of his press conference.
On tonight’s game
I’m trying to be as business-like as possible. But there are a lot of great memories in this building.
On the relationships he had with the players in Washington
I thought they were really good relationships. They were great guys. For a lot of them, just watching tapes of them, thinking we’ve played in Hershey together, we’ve won championships together. When you win a championship, no matter where you are, you always have a special bond with that group. That’ll be with me forever. At the end of the season, I’ll see a couple of them, but right now I won’t even look over at them tonight. Not once. I’ll be too afraid [laughs].
On if he still follows the Capitals
It’s the time difference. We get to watch the seven o’clock games. Sometimes they’re on and it happens to be there. I’ll watch them.
On wanting his former players to succeed
If you like somebody, you want them to do good. But I don’t want them to do good tonight. But you want them to succeed and you want good things to happen to good people. It’s just natural.
On the difference between Anaheim and Washington, D.C.
The environment is a little different. In California, it’s a little more laid back. We get two media people in our morning scrum, and I think half of them are right here. It’s a little different this morning.
On if he’ll look around the arena and soak it all in during tonight’s game
I don’t know what I’m going to be looking at tonight. I’m going to be trying to focus solely on the game, but I know cameras are going to be on everywhere I look. And that’s what they’re going to show, like ‘Oh, there he is looking at Billy Joe in the stands.’ So I’ll be pretty focused on the game.
On if he knows what kind of reaction he’ll get from the fans
I don’t want to anticipate anything, quite frankly. It’s going to be nerve-wracking going on the bench. It’s going to be really exciting seeing all the red. When the jerseys weren’t there, then all of a sudden you have 18,000 people wearing red. I thought that was cool. That’ll be interesting for me.
On his thoughts on Alex Ovechkin taking his game to another level this season
I guess we might have to cover him tonight. He’s a pretty good player. He got 65 goals the one year, and he won two Hart Trophies when I was here. We all knew how great he was. He can turn it on at any moment. At the same time, every player I’ve seen in any sport has gone through a year where they’ve had a little slump. He certainly has picked it back up. He’s the catalyst on this team, and certainly a top candidate for MVP again.
On the Washington Capitals
They can score. They come from behind and they never quit. They have a power play that you don’t want to take any penalties against. They’re very good.
On the season former Capitals forward Mathieu Perreault is having
He’ll be pretty excited to play tonight. If the people in Washington remember, when he was on, he was buzzing around on the forecheck. He will be genuinely excited to play here. He used to be a big crowd favorite, too, so I’m sure he’ll get some butterflies and his adrenaline will be going.
He’s the same type of player as always, but maybe a little more mature, a little older, and a little more experienced. He still goes through his bugs of inconsistency, but right now, during the last few games, he’s been very good. We hope that continues. He was hurting for two weeks and his game sagged, because skating is Matty’s game. If he can’t skate, then it really takes a lot away from him. But the last two games, he’s been skating and has been the catalyst in our comebacks and in our wins.
On returning to Washington D.C. with a franchise-best eight-game winning streak
I didn’t plan that [laughs]. We’re pretty fortunate that that’s happened. We’re happy about it, but those guys have earned it because they’ve worked really hard to get there through the injuries we’ve had. Now we’re second in man-games lost, but for most of the year we had the most injuries. They kept battling. And we’ve played the most road games in the league. They’ve got a good character group in there that wants to win every night.
On the first thing that came to mind when he first stepped into Verizon Center yesterday
I hope the ice is better [laughs]. I just saw [Verizon Center] and said, “Wow, it’s different from this [visiting] locker room.” I didn’t even know how to get into the building from a visitor’s standpoint. It’s all interesting.
On what he’ll miss most from his time here
The people. The people were great, and the whole city was great, as far as the fans go and the way my family and I were treated. And, I’ll miss the players. I thought they were a rabid bunch that wanted to win. I wouldn’t mind playing them in the Stanley Cup Final. I think that would be a fun environment.
On if there is any lingering bitterness from being let go in Washington
I don’t know if bitterness is the right word. I’ve never used that word, I don’t think. I was grateful for them and what they gave me. No one would’ve ever hired me after 30 years in the minors, unless it was [General Manager] George McPhee and [Chairman and Majority Owner] Ted Leonsis. They took a chance on me. So even though you got let go, I was grateful for the opportunity because I got a job basically a day later.
On the memories of being in Hershey and Washington, D.C.
Great memories I’ll never forget. The championships in Hershey, the raising of the banners here, the comeback wins. All of those things. Watching Alex [Ovechkin] go versus Sidney [Crosby] and all the hype it would bring. The Winter Classic. Everything about Washington was a really great experience.