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Ducks extend coach Boudreau through 2016-17

by Curtis Zupke

ANAHEIM -- Anaheim Ducks general manager Bob Murray and coach Bruce Boudreau did not want the 2014-15 season to determine whether Boudreau would continue behind the bench.

Boudreau said he began discussions with Murray on a contract extension shortly after the Ducks were eliminated in their Western Conference Second Round series by the eventual Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings. The talks continued off and on until Anaheim announced Wednesday that Boudreau had received a two-year extension to remain as coach through 2016-17.

"We wanted to get it done before the season started so there was nothing hanging over us during the season, because I didn't want to talk about it during the season," Boudreau said.

Boudreau was in the final year of a contract extension he signed in May 2012. Since his hiring in November 2011, he has proven to be well-liked by players, and his free-flowing offensive style fits a team with many weapons.

That was evident in 2013-14, even though the regular-season success that allowed Anaheim to finish first in the Western Conference didn't translate to the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Murray and the Ducks organization wanted to give Boudreau that chance to go further.

"It certainly means a lot," Boudreau said. "It means that the Ducks organization has faith in me in leading this team, and that's important going forward. I love the California area I'm living in. It was really nice to be able to get this, rather than worry all year. It's good on many levels."

Boudreau was hired after Randy Carlyle's firing was announced following a win against the Montreal Canadiens on Nov. 30, 2011. If Boudreau coaches through his entire contract, it will give him at least a six-season tenure, the second-longest in Ducks history behind Carlyle's seven. Boudreau led Anaheim to a team-record 116 points and 54 wins last season, and the Ducks scored 266 goals, second to the Chicago Blackhawks (267).

Boudreau was the fastest coach in NHL history to reach 300 wins, and his .663 winning percentage is the best among all active coaches (minimum 100 games).

"Bruce has done a very good job over the last several years, and deserves the opportunity to take this team deep into the playoffs," Murray said in a statement. "We're happy to have this contract complete before training camp, so our complete focus can be on winning hockey games."

Boudreau's regular-season success has been tempered by postseason disappointment. He has never advanced past the second round of the playoffs, largely because he is 1-5 in Game 7s. That includes last season's loss to the Kings at home, which might rank among the most disappointing in Ducks history.

"I think we were close last year," Boudreau said. "Just by experience, by our young guys having that one year, is going to make us better, plus the addition of [Ryan] Kesler and [center Nate] Thompson are really big. In the past all the prognosticators in the last couple of years [have said] that we'd be fighting for the playoffs -- and we'll still be fighting for the playoffs -- but people are expecting more from us, and we expect more from ourselves."

Asked about the conference getting much tougher in the offseason, with many of the Western powers upgrading through free agency, Boudreau said he certainly took note. But he added that the team at the top didn't need to change much.

"You're comparing yourself to the L.A. Kings and where their depth is," Boudreau said. "They're at the top of the mountain and everyone's trying to catch them. We think we've improved our club, and hopefully we'll have another chance and another great series against them."

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