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Bruce Bites: Legendary Coaches, Road Trips and Youth

Wild coach Bruce Boudreau chats with about Bill Belichick, locker room sayings and developing young players

by Dan Myers @1DanMyers /

In this week's edition of Bruce Bites,'s Dan Myers sits down with Wild coach Bruce Boudreau to talk about legendary coaches, his favorite road trips and young players buying in:

Dan Myers: New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick just coached his seventh Super Bowl on Sunday and won his fifth championship. As a guy who is a coach at the highest level in your own sport, how much does that kind of success amaze you?

Bruce Boudreau: I've just always wanted to know where that was when he was with my [Cleveland] Browns and he went five years out of the playoffs. But that's neither here nor there. 

But it's pretty well acknowledged that he's as good as there's ever been in the [NFL]. And when he retires, he'll be Vince Lombardi-ish in the coaching world. [I] try and emulate. I listen to everything he says, and try to see how it would relate to our game because the guy obviously has the right potion.

DM: Speaking of a guy like Vince Lombardi, are there coaches -- hockey or otherwise -- that you have admired as you've worked your way up the professional ranks?

BB: From the past, John Wooden; I've read his book. That had a lot of great things in it. Knute Rockne, I still am a big Notre Dame fan. I've read his autobiography and how he did things. Present day, my personality isn't Scotty Bowman or anybody else, but they've got some pretty good ideas. And those ideas, you try and take the good and bad with everybody. I've had some great coaches, from Roger Nielsen to Andy Murray and then you add your personality into what you learn from them. Hopefully it works.

DM: The phrase 'win the week' is a popular one inside the dressing room and has been one that you have used in previous coaching stops. When did you incorporate it into your programs and where did it come from?

BB: It just kind of came to me at one point. I think I heard something about short-term goals and so I thought a short-term goal would be a seven-day window and I started using it. I started finding out that [it'd be easier if] you could focus a lot more on a three-game or four-game time frame than it would be if you put 10-game goals down. If you got behind, for example, and you were in last place, and you wanted to be in first place, instead of looking at it and saying you need 24 points, if we win the week every week, just by one, you're going to get that 24 points in 12 weeks. But it seemed a lot easier of a task than the daunting, 'We've gotta win 17 of our next 20,' because that sounds pretty hard.

DM: The Wild just completed a nine-day road trip, the type to which you're no stranger having coached in the West for a while now. Is there a favorite road trip you have in the NHL?

BB: Well, if we did this ever again, I'd like it to be in California; the weather would at least be a little nicer. But no, they are what they are and this [recent] trip has been a little different than one I've ever taken because of the two days off in between everywhere we go. And to try and keep the players focused is probably the toughest task you have when you have only one game in five days and you're on the road.

DM: You've talked a little bit recently about guys buying in defensively, especially with guys like Mikael Granlund and Jason Zucker. In your experience, is there an age players reach where they seem to turn a corner in that regard?

BB: For a forward, I haven't given a time frame. For defense, I've always thought you need to play at least 300 games in the NHL to learn the game. It's a tough position to learn. Forwards I expect to just buy in, because it's not that difficult for what you have to do. You just have to not cheat. It happens with us, when we start scoring four goals, then you start cheating for offense. And it's up to me to realize that, see it and reel them back in or things habit-wise can get out of hand.

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