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Boudreau sees big things ahead for Ducks

by Tal Pinchevsky

The day Bruce Boudreau was named a finalist for the Jack Adams Award, the Anaheim Ducks coach admitted the timing of the NHL's announcement wasn't great.

Boudreau was still stinging from Monday's 3-2 loss to the Detroit Red Wings in Game 7 of the Western Conference Quarterfinals.

"It's hard coming on the heels of probably your most depressing moment in a year, when you're still decompressing from losing in the playoffs," Boudreau said during a conference call Friday. "But it certainly is a great honor."

Much of Boudreau's offseason will be occupied with improving on his team's first-place Pacific Division finish in the 2012-13 season. Remarkably, between replacing Randy Carlyle midseason in 2011 then dealing with a lockout-shortened campaign, Boudreau has yet to lead his team through a full training camp. It's an opportunity he's looking forward to for next season.

"It will really help us. We can do a lot more organizationally. We can get everyone on the same page. I thought we had a really good start this year, but we'll start better next year. I'm looking forward to it," Boudreau said. "I'm looking forward to training camp already. Especially with the rise of all our young players in the organization, from Rickard Rakell to Emerson Etem. Seeing them perform at different times, we're really excited about seeing all those guys next year at camp."

After inheriting a team that would finish 13th in the Western Conference in 2011-12, Boudreau re-established a replenished Ducks roster as one of the best in the League. The bounce-back campaign was aided in large part by contributions from a number of new faces, including goaltender Viktor Fasth, forward Daniel Winnik and defenseman Sheldon Souray.

But it was the play of Boudreau's rookies, particularly California-born Etem, that has the coach most excited for next season.

"I don't want to put too much pressure on Emerson right now. Right now he's just finding his way, but I think you could see that he has the capabilities of being something special," Boudreau said. "It might be three or four years before he reaches that level. But his work ethic and everything else about him as a young man is really good. I don't see why he doesn't have that ability to become a real voice in California hockey."

The biggest news this offseason for the Ducks likely will be regarding the team's pair of Finnish veterans. Neither 38-year-old Saku Koivu nor 42-year-old Teemu Selanne has confirmed whether he will return to Anaheim next season.

"That's wait and see," Boudreau said of any pending announcement from the veterans. "I haven't heard anything."

The future of those players will play a sizable role in what should be an interesting summer for Boudreau, who was nominated for coach of the year along with Paul MacLean of the Ottawa Senators and Joel Quenneville of the Chicago Blackhawks.

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