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Guy Boucher facing former team for first time

Senators coach grateful to Lightning for opportunity, not looking for revenge

by Chris Stevenson / Correspondent

OTTAWA -- Guy Boucher said he would like to help sportswriters with a revenge storyline as the Ottawa Senators coach prepared to face the Tampa Bay Lightning, who fired him 31 games into the 2012-13 season, for the first time Saturday at Canadian Tire Centre (7 p.m. ET; SUN, SN1, SN360, NHL.TV).

But Boucher, who returned to the NHL when the Senators hired him on May 8, said too much time has passed for him to be angry or bitter. He said what he feels is gratitude toward Lightning owner Jeff Vinik, general manager Steve Yzerman and assistant general manager Julien BriseBois.

Boucher got his first chance as an NHL coach when Yzerman hired him away from the Montreal Canadiens in 2010, when Boucher was coaching their American Hockey League team in Hamilton. Boucher took the Lightning to the Eastern Conference Final in 2010-11, when Tampa Bay lost to the Boston Bruins in seven games.

The Lightning missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs the following season with a 38-36-8 record. When they started the shortened 2012-13 season 13-18-1, Boucher was fired on March 24, 2013. He coached Bern SC in Switzerland for parts of three seasons before being hired by the Senators.

"I'd love to say, 'Oh my goodness, it's a revenge day,' and the whole big story, so you guys [the media] get a great story about it, but for me I'm so grateful," Boucher said. "First of all, the Montreal Canadiens gave me my first opportunity as a pro, so I owe them. Steve Yzerman and Mr. Vinik and Julien BriseBois, I owe them a lot.

"As a family, we had four years down there, a really good life. I was given a lot and I was very fortunate [Yzerman] gave me the reigns to an NHL team and had success there, seventh game of a conference final. You've got to be grateful for these things."

Boucher said he and Yzerman have stayed in touch.

"We kept on talking more than just talking once in a while," Boucher said. "We've talked many, many times after, that so we kept a really good relationship. The animosity that I guess people would be looking for, there's none of that.

"I have to be honest. The distance in years, the fact there's only two players that I've coached there, the fact I've kept great relationships with the GM and Julien BriseBois and those people inside the organization, I was well-treated. There's none of that negativity I'd love to send out there, but there ain't."

Asked if he was angry at the time about being fired, Boucher laughed then said, "You're trying now, eh? I'm here today. That's the good thing. The good thing is my first opportunity in the NHL has definitely helped me for my second one. That's the way I have always taken it.

"My father passed away when I was 17, but the one thing he left me with is, don't just look at how things end. Look at how things start. I was given a great opportunity by these people, and that's the way I see it."

The two players remaining on the roster from Boucher's time in Tampa Bay are forward Steven Stamkos and defenseman Victor Hedman.

"Maybe it's the distance of the years. I'm very calm and almost cold about it," Boucher said. "I don't know how to explain it. It's been too long. I guess if it was last year or if it was a few months ago, and it was all the people that I had worked with and all the players that I've had, but I only coached two of these players. That's it.

"So much has changed. It would be a lot harder if it was all the guys that I'd coached and those guys were coming in, then I guess there would be more emotion there."

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