ST. PAUL, Minn. -- After months of transitioning and moving halfway across the country, Minnesota Wild coach Bruce Boudreau finally is starting to settle into his new position.
Part of getting accustomed to the job has been a whirlwind media tour that began Monday, when Boudreau spent several hours at the Minnesota State Fair. It concluded Tuesday with the first Wild Town Hall at Xcel Energy Center, which gave fans and Twitter users a chance to ask questions of Boudreau, owner Craig Leipold and general manager Chuck Fletcher.
"There's not another TV station or radio station in Minnesota we didn't talk to, I don't think," Boudreau said. "This was the first time on TV. But yesterday was fun too."
Boudreau mostly has remained behind the scenes since being introduced as Minnesota's new coach on May 10, less than two weeks after he was fired by the Anaheim Ducks. He and his wife, Crystal, have spent the summer rounding up belongings from their homes in Anaheim and Hershey, Pennsylvania, and moving them to their new home in Woodbury, Minnesota, about a 15-minute drive from Xcel Energy Center.
Other than a mix-up involving a moving truck, which Boudreau documented with local radio affiliate KFXN-FM on Monday when he said one of the three trucks moving the family's belongings "crashed and burned," Boudreau said he's seeing signs of normalcy.
"My wife is making friends, she's met the neighbors and everything, we're out of boxes now," Boudreau said. "My son starts playing hockey in New Ulm on [Sept. 6], so he's starting to get excited about it. Everything is good right now."
Preparations are underway for Boudreau's first training camp with the Wild. Though Minnesota will be missing six players who are taking part in the World Cup of Hockey 2016, Boudreau said the absence of veterans, including forward Zach Parise and defenseman Ryan Suter, will present a good opportunity for younger players and prospects who might otherwise not have received more than a quick glance.
"We can look at it and say you'd like everybody to be there, but at the same time, what an opportunity for young players," Boudreau said. "We're missing six really good players, so that gives other guys an opportunity to play more, for other guys to stand up and be leaders. I look at it as a positive thing."
Boudreau, nicknamed "Gabby" because of his ability to seemingly talk about anything, seemed to win the night with fans with his refreshing honesty Tuesday. He admitted at the State Fair on Monday there aren't many questions he wouldn't answer and that was tested by fans at the Town Hall, where inquiries weren't screened ahead of time. One fan, apparently bothered by the structure of the Wild's power play in recent seasons, encouraged him to stress more of a net-front presence. Another asked where he has his centers play in the offensive zone.
Boudreau answered simply and honestly, a trait he said he likes to maintain with his players and how he teaches systems. That ability to connect with fans wasn't lost on Leipold, who was impressed with Boudreau's candor.
"I've seen him like this before," Leipold said. "In an environment where you learn about him, his mannerisms, his body language, how he answers honestly. It seems to come from the heart, it's not something that's a canned answer. I think the community is learning about the coach and I think that's good."