ST. PAUL -- Somehow, some way, Minnesota Wild coach Bruce Boudreau will be coaching in his first NHL All-Star Game next weekend in Los Angeles.
For a guy who has won eight division titles in nine years as a head coach and has guided his club to a President's Trophy, as he did with Washington in 2009-10, the coach who became the fastest to 400 wins in NHL history, the man who holds the highest winning percentage among active coaches, it's remarkable that he hasn't guided two or three All-Star teams already.
But for one reason or another, Boudreau will be making his debut behind an All-Star bench on Sunday at the Staples Center.
"It's a tremendous honor," Boudreau said. "I can't explain how excited I am. I'm probably way more excited than I should be for what it is."
Perhaps it's fitting, then, that the self-proclaimed "hockey geek" will make his maiden voyage to the All-Star Game while the NHL is celebrating its 100th anniversary.
In addition to the normal skills competitions and the games themselves, the League will be unveiling its top 100 players of all-time, something that Boudreau has said he's looking forward to, probably more than the game.
A Toronto-area native that grew up a huge Maple Leafs fan, before spending years himself playing with the club, Boudreau said he'll be like a kid in a candy store meeting players he grew up idolizing.
"I don't think he's on the list, but Frank Pavlich, my hero growing up," Boudreau said. "He might be on the list, I don't know. But I would love to sit down and talk to him."
Oh, he can go on.
"I knew Gordie Howe a little bit, but it's unfortunate I won't get a chance to see him."
"I know Bobby Orr, and any time you get a chance to talk to him it's fantastic; what a great person he is."
While Boudreau has had the fortune of meeting many of the 100 players that will be unveiled by the NHL this week, he said he's more excited for his 18-year old son Brady, who himself has become quite the hockey geek.
Like father, like son.
"The Gretzkys of the world, I've been very fortunate and met a lot of these guys, but I know my son is almost a historian, he studies all of these guys," Boudreau said. "It would be really more exciting for him for the older guys from the 50s and 60s, he'd like to meet some of those guys."
Before then, the Wild has some business to attend to inside the Central Division. Minnesota plays at Dallas on Tuesday before hosting the St. Louis Blues back home on Thursday night.
Boudreau said he is excited for the weekend ahead, but won't allow himself to really get in the moment until he's taken care of things with the Wild against the Stars and Blues.
"My excitement level for it [is high] all the time, but I usually think about it on days we don't play," Boudreau said. "We play [two] games before the All-Star Game, so my focus is not on [next weekend]. My focus is going to be on these games, and then to have fun over there."
For a guy who spent two decades working his way mostly through the minor leagues of hockey, Boudreau has earned the right to enjoy himself amongst some of the biggest names in the history of the sport. It's a weekend Boudreau has watched from afar for years, but will now get to be a part of himself.
"Every time you watch it year after year you go, 'Aww man. That would be cool to watch.' I'm really looking forward to it," Boudreau said. "Hopefully, when we do go there the team is still playing really well, because that will make it a lot nicer."