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Capitals drop 'interim' from Boudreau's title, make him coach

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WASHINGTON (AP) -Bruce Boudreau became the Washington Capitals' coach Wednesday when the team dropped the "interim" tag from his title.

The Capitals were 7-5-3 under Boudreau entering Wednesday night's game against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

"The goal when you take the job is to be here a long time," Boudreau said. "My job is to win and then reevaluate everything at the end of the year. Until further notice, I'm here."

Boudreau was promoted from the club's American Hockey League affiliate, the Hershey Bears, on Thanksgiving Day, replacing the fired Glen Hanlon. At that point, the Capitals were last in the NHL with a 6-14-1 record, their worst 21-game start to a season since 1981-82.

Washington general manager George McPhee said he liked Boudreau's style - immediately.

"It was actually the first practice and the first game," McPhee said. "We just wanted the opportunity to watch him at this level."

McPhee declined to reveal the length of Boudreau's contract.

"We just thought it was about time that we let the players know," McPhee said. "There was something about it that seemed to look right and feel right."

Entering Wednesday, Washington's mark of 13-19-4 still left it last in the Eastern Conference and 29th in the 30-team league. But the team has flourished under Boudreau, who has grown increasingly secure in his role.

"I got a little more comfortable in the situation. I didn't know what to expect when you come to the NHL," Boudreau said. "Everything that I thought has pretty much come true."

Under Boudreau, the Capitals are averaging three goals a game, up from 2.2 under Hanlon.

"We've had confidence in him from the moment he came in," Washington defenseman Brian Pothier said. "We're looking forward to the rest of the season and getting better every night."

Boudreau coached more than 1,000 games in the minor leagues and never was an assistant coach in the NHL before getting the chance to lead the Capitals on an interim basis. He played in parts of eight NHL seasons with Toronto and Chicago.

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