In this week's edition of Bruce Bites, Wild.com's Dan Myers sits down with Wild coach Bruce Boudreau to talk about his recent knee surgery, what it was like watching his old team march through the Stanley Cup Playoffs and what the offseason holds for the veteran bench boss:
Dan Myers: First of all, you had a minor knee operation last week. How are things going after that? Was it an old injury from your playing days?
Bruce Boudreau: There was a few things wrong with my knee. I think it might have started [in my playing days]. But I have arthritis in there, so they had to scrape the bone, which is bad. And they took the cartilage out or whatever they do.
DM: Now that we're a month and change out since the end of the Wild's season, do you still find yourself looking back to how things ended? Or have you started to look forward to the new season?
BB: I mean, I always think you look back. Things will come up, you'll look back at a game here or a point there and wonder what went wrong. But you can't live in the past. You've gotta move forward and you gotta figure out what went wrong so you don't do it again.
DM: I know you're watching these Stanley Cup Final games and you have been watching the playoffs as they've unfolded. Does it still sting knowing that you could still be playing right now?
BB: I don't know if the right word is sting ... people want to use these words that make it sound like it's physically harming. It bugs me [that we're not playing] because I think we're every bit as good as the team that's coming out of the West right now. But they're playing good at the right time and the one thing you can tell about Nashville -- and I'm not saying it wasn't the case with our team, but it's really evident in their team -- is that they don't care who does well, who plays a lot, who does anything as long as they get the 'W.' It's a really good example of a team-first mentality that they have and I think that has a good chance of carrying them to win the Cup.
DM: The Predators were a trendy pick before the season to be a team competing for the Cup but got off to a rough start to the season. How impressed have you been with their ability to continue to build their game over the past few months of their campaign? You got a good look at them on the first of April towards the end of the regular season.
BB: That April 1 game, they beat us 3-0 and Alex Stalock played in net; he played a really good game for us. It was coming on the end of a back-to-back for us, but at the same time, they had spurts [in that game] of playing the way they're capable of playing and they just couldn't sustain it. Right now, they're sustaining it and that's what's carrying them through. [Predators goaltender Pekka] Rinne has been tremendous in the playoffs and, quite frankly, he was spotty during the regular season. He had great times but at the same time, there were times when people were wondering, 'Is he getting a little older?' And that's where [Juuse] Saros came in and was a real good backup for them. I played them last year [with Anaheim] and it took seven games for them to beat us, but it was a very similar situation, where the guys that don't have the big names were stepping up. I'm really amazed with them, you look at their fourth line in Game 4; [Harry] Zolnierczyk, Frederick Gaudreau and P.A. Parenteau ... two guys that played in the minors their whole life, one guy started in the East Coast [Hockey] League this year, and they're playing regular shifts and creating stuff. That's what you need if you want to win.
DM: What was it like watching Anaheim advance as far as it did, reaching the Western Conference Final and the verge of perhaps playing for the Stanley Cup?
BB: Well, I'm a human being, I don't want them to win. You know? And at the same time, I think Edmonton actually beat them in [six games]. There's no way that [in Game 5], when they scored three goals in the final 2 1/2 minutes, that their third goal wasn't goalie interference. They could have very well been out in six. At the same time, I must be honest, you look at some of the players you had that played very well for you, for me, and you got to really like, and you're hoping for their success. You just didn't want the name 'Anaheim' to have success.
DM: You got back into meetings with your coaching staff, scouts and the front office last week. What were those discussions like? What kind of input are they asking for from you?
BB: What we were doing was just going over our team. When any one of us wanted to chime in and give a point about a thought on an individual player, then we did. We didn't make any resounding things, like 'We need this, we need that.' There's obviously some insight coaches can give that scouts can't see because they're not in the dressing room with the guys. But those are the little things that we can give some insight to.
DM: Many of the talking heads around the League are predicting a busy summer when it comes to player movement. Do you see it that way?
BB: I've heard that every year since I've been in the League, 'This is going to be a busy summer, there's going to be trades, this draft is going to be really exciting,' and then it goes through the first 30 players and there's nobody traded. I don't know. I think a lot of it is hype, but there is that added caveat that Vegas is in the League now, so there could be some deals done. It's probably an exciting time for [Vegas General Manager] George McPhee, talking to every GM almost every day, I would assume. But for coaches, whoever is here, I'm gonna coach. Do the best you can do that's within our money and our salary cap and we will put together a team that's going to be pretty good and fans are going to like.
DM: Obviously, these expansion drafts don't happen very often and you aren't keen on losing a good player, as you likely will. But will it be exciting to watch a team being built completely from scratch?
BB: It's really interesting because I think I've started four teams (Muskegon in the COHL, Biloxi in the ECHL, San Francisco in the IHL and Fort Wayne in the IHL). That's at lower levels, but it is an exciting time for those that are starting those teams. It'll be interesting watching and saying, 'Oh I would have protected that guy,' or 'They're letting a good guy go unprotected and wouldn't we like to have him.' That stuff, from a fan's standpoint, is going to be the same as from a coach's standpoint. It should be interesting, especially with everything happening in Vegas. I think it's an exciting time for the people of Las Vegas and I hope they appreciate how big of a deal it is.
DM: What kinds of things do you like to do away from the rink during the offseason?
BB: Well, I haven't been able to do anything right now [because of the surgery], but I'm looking forward to some golfing, visiting my children and my grandkids, because you don't get to see them too often during the winter. Then we have our hockey school in August and I look forward to that every year. Then before you know it, we're back in the office working and I don't think there is a hockey coach alive that doesn't love that more than anything.
DM: How much of your time this summer will you spend in Minnesota?
BB: I've been here since the end of the season and I'll be here probably until the middle of July. Then after the [Wild on the Water] fishing tournament, we'll head to Canada and visit all my family and friends for two or three weeks. Then, after the hockey camp [Aug. 7-12], it's back here and off we go.