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Bruce Boudreau gets ready for return to Anaheim

After playing Kings, Wild coach goes to Honda Center for first time since being fired by Ducks

by Lisa Dillman @reallisa / Staff Writer

Bruce Boudreau was on the phone the other day, talking about the business of hellos and goodbyes and nice-to-see-you-agains.

The Minnesota Wild coach should be a stone-cold natural at this matter of coming back again, having coached six minor-league teams, the Washington Capitals, the Anaheim Ducks, and now, the Wild.

But not so.

He's like most of us and isn't afraid to admit it: Slightly nervous about returning to the old workplace and wondering how former co-workers really felt.

"I don't know how other people act," Boudreau said. "But I think I'm a pretty average person. It's always nervous seeing guys. When you get let go, you don't know behind the scenes if they liked you or really liked you or hated you or what the thing was. You don't know what the reaction was going to be."

Minnesota will play the Ducks at Honda Center on Sunday (8 p.m. ET: NBCSN, NHL.TV), marking the return of Boudreau to Anaheim for the first time since he was fired by the Ducks on April 29. The Ducks won four division titles under Boudreau but lost four consecutive Game 7s in the playoffs, all at home.

Boudreau was not idle for long; he interviewed with the Wild and the Ottawa Senators before Minnesota hired him on May 7. It followed the playbook of his arrival in Anaheim, an even swifter process, all of two days, after Washington let him go in 2011.

He replaced Randy Carlyle in Anaheim and, in a quirky twist, Carlyle would end up succeeding Boudreau with the Ducks.

"When I first got the [Minnesota] job and the schedule came out, it was the first game I looked at," Boudreau said. "I think that's pretty natural, whether it's a player getting traded or a coach going to a different team.

"Quite frankly, I'll be nervous on the other bench. I was nervous when I went to Washington, not knowing how the reaction was going to be. I'm only human in that respect."

Minnesota is on a West Coast trip that started in dramatic fashion Thursday, when they scored four third-period goals to defeat the San Jose Sharks. The Wild have won seven consecutive road games.

Before facing the Ducks, they'll play the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday afternoon at Staples Center (4 p.m. ET; NHLN, FS-W, FS-N, FS-WI).

One thing possibly helping Boudreau deal with the nerves was an impromptu mini-reunion with some of the Ducks players and staff. The Wild happened to be in Edmonton at the same time as Anaheim in early December, and Boudreau saw Ducks assistant coach Paul MacLean and team video coordinator Joe Piscotty.

"Even the young players that I didn't have a lot to do with: [Joseph] Cramarossa and [Chris] Wagner were there and they came over and said hi and we laughed about a couple of things," Boudreau said. "It was really nice but I was nervous even seeing them. I don't know why you get like that. But you do. I was really happy to see them."

Success, of course, is the best way to get over a former team. Minnesota (24-9-4) is one point behind the first-place Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference, and the Wild's 12-game winning streak ended on Saturday against the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Blue Jackets had their own winning streak (16 games) end on Thursday at Washington.

Still, swagger isn't an element of the Boudreau personality.

"You never want to be complacent and think it's going to stay that way," he said the day before the victory at San Jose. "I worry about losing all the time. Even if we have a 12-game winning streak going and have lost one, you think, 'Oh my god. We've got to get back on the track.' You just don't want it to snowball into something that's bad."

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