Bruce Boudreau admitted his head was still spinning as he appeared as a guest on Thursday's "NHL Hour With Commissioner Gary Bettman", but the former coach of the Washington Capitals who was fired this past Monday added his dizziness was a better feeling than if he hadn't accepted the coaching job with the Anaheim Ducks late Wednesday evening.
"Quite frankly I didn't leave myself enough chance when I did get fired to sit back and dwell on it because this happened so quick. I mean, if I had still been at home right now I'd probably be pretty miserable and sad," Boudreau said.
Learning curve for Caps players
Corey Masisak - NHL.com Senior Writer The focus for the Capitals, regardless of the opponent, remains squarely on themselves this week -- trying to learn the system of their new coach and adapt to his philosophy. READ MORE ›
Instead, the quickest NHL coach to 200 victories gets set to try to turn a franchise around in short order for the second time in four seasons. Boudreau guided the Capitals from last place in the overall League standings at Thanksgiving in 2007 to the first of four consecutive Southeast Division titles in under five months' time, and now he'll work on lifting the Ducks from 14th place in the Western Conference and back into a playoff position.
Boudreau reiterated statements he made earlier this week, primarily that there were no hard feelings whatsoever surrounding his dismissal in Washington.
"It's not painful, it was the greatest time of my life," he said. "If I ever get close to duplicating that here, I'll be a happy man. It was a tremendous experience being from most of my life in the minor leagues to getting four years and watching the growth of hockey -- go from six or seven thousand people a game to sold-out buildings, everybody wearing red and having a waiting list on your season-ticket line. That was a great thrill, to playing in the Winter Classic to all the great things that happened."
Boudreau ran his first practice with the Ducks on Thursday and admitted he still has a long way to go in getting to know his new players.
"The first thing I have to do is just get to know your team," he said. "When you're in the East, you don't know too much about the West -- at least I don't. I didn't focus too much attention on a team we play once a year. If this was an Eastern team I think I'd have a pretty good book on them. But other than the seven or eight players that are household names, the other guys I didn't know too much about. So studying, trying to get to know who these guys are and then just watching what the team tendencies were, to see if it fit in to what I wanted to do."
Friday night marks Boudreau's first game coaching his new team, and he agreed with Bettman's presumption that he probably knows more about his opponent, the Philadelphia Flyers, than he does about the Ducks at the present moment.
"Definitely more familiar with the Flyers because they, being their proximity, I get to watch a lot of their games on TV anyway," he said. "So [the Capitals] play them not only four times, but they're quite a rival. So I think it's a bonus -- you don't like to see one of the best teams in the NHL coming into your building, but it's better than somebody that you don't know at all. … At least I have an idea and a book on the Philadelphia Flyers right now."
As optimistic as Boudreau is heading into his second NHL coaching job, he's mindful of the fact almost all of them eventually end in the same manner his tenure in Washington did at the start of this week.
"You can't fire 20 players," he said. "The other thing is we knew [what] we were getting into. The path doesn't change. Coaches are hired to be fired. None of us think it's going to happen or don't want it to happen. We all wish we were Lindy Ruff and Barry Trotz, but we're not, so we do the best we can for as long as we can. If we have to move on, we have to move on. It depends on how much you love the game and how much you love the profession whether you choose to stay on and do it or whether you get frustrated and want to quit. I just happen to love the game too much, I think."