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They said it: Boudreau gives take on 2018-19 season

Wild head coach reflects on team missing playoffs, changes in the offseason and his positive outlook on next season

by Minnesota Wild @mnwild /

ST. PAUL -- Wild coach Bruce Boudreau sat down with media Tuesday for the end-of-season press conference alongside General Manager Paul Fenton. Boudreau gave his take on the 2018-19 season, his outlook on the offseason and what changes need to be made to get his team back in the playoffs next season.

Read on for a transcript of Boudreau's thoughts from Tuesday's press conference:

On the challenges faced during the season:

I think every job in the NHL is tough, but we had to grind pretty good. We attempted at that, and most every game was close. You look at the games we lost that end up being 4-1 or 4-0 or something, it was always 1-0 or 2-1 going into the third period, so we were always there, and we just didn't have that extra little jump to get the lead. I think every time we did get the lead we were pretty successful. But it was getting that lead. After a while you keep playing from behind, it's going to catch up to you, and I think it did at the end.

On coaching next season without a contract extension:

I really liked it when you guys were asking Paul all the questions. Hey, listen, I just want to coach, and it's up to me to help make this team successful, and whatever happens, happens.

On the possibility of the team being in playoff contention next season:

I always see the positive, I guess. I firmly believed we were going to make it this year, but I firmly believe that we've got the core that's going to make it next year for sure. I mean, a lot depends. You talk in August and you look at the lineup and you're like, 'OK, this is going to be really good,' but you never know what happens through injuries or what have you. But if I'm sitting here right now, I'm going, 'Yeah,' looking at the way the season went and what the other teams were that made it have gotten, I think if we were a little healthier and we make an improvement a little bit next year, sure we'll be there.

On his thoughts of Eric Staal's and Jason Zucker's performances this season:

Eric went from 28 goals to 42 goals. People have off years. We still believe in both of them. Zuck, when you talk about hitting posts and having breakaways and missing, the difference between him making them and missing them was the year difference. I think he's going to bounce back and have a really good year. I think Eric is going to bounce back. We forget that Eric had 52 points. Because he set the bar high the year before, when we signed him, if he would've gotten 22 goals and 52 points, we would've been ecstatic. He himself exceeded what we thought he was going to do. And this year, we had so many numerous linemates for him that he never really got into that line that was a perfect fit, I think once that happens, just knowing his determination. When he came here from Carolina and the Rangers everybody was down on him and he was very determined. If you know his character I think he's going to be very determined this summer. Especially after getting a new deal. He's going to come back here with a vengeance next year. It wouldn't surprise me if he's near the 30-goal plateau last year. 

Yeah, I would say if you asked either one of them they would say they had off years. 

On the progress players can make during the offseason leading into training camp:

I think it's two things. This summer the training of all our young players that we acquired and obviously everybody else is going to be intense. And they will be very happy coming into camp knowing they have a firm position and how much they played the previous year and now knowing players. I think conditioning is going to be a big part of it. I just think the maturity of experience is going to be a big factor too. All these guys we acquired, they came into a situation where they knew nobody and they were thrown together with a lot of different line combinations. Now I think the familiarity coming into camp and knowing the people I think it's going to be a big help next year.

On the status of his coaching staff for next season:

We haven't talked about that at all so I would really not like to talk about that right now if that's OK.

On not making the playoffs this season:

It sucks. How else can you put it? It just sucks. I've been wandering around the house. I haven't even turned on the NHL Network or anything. I don't want to hear anything about who's favored, who is not favored in the playoffs. I hope it sits in everybody's craw the way it's sitting in mine because then you'll be determined never to let it happen again.

On whether he plans to watch any playoff games:

I'm going to Fort Wayne to watching my kid in the playoffs in the East Coast League but that's as close as I'm getting right now. I'm sure I'll watch. This is what we do but, right now, and there has been no hockey on for three days, so it's OK. But I'm sure I'll watch.

On his level of disappointment in missing the playoffs in a full season for the first time in his career :

Oh, yeah. We've had seven Game 7 losses in conference championships and stuff. Yeah, they're disappointing but you got to where you were … maybe, you had the opportunity. We had the President's Trophy and lost in the first round but this is disappointing. When you don't get a chance to go to the dance that's the most disappointing thing.

On his thoughts on Zach Parise's season:

He got 28 goals. If we had a few more 28-goal scorers we might not be having this conversation right now but I thought he had a really good bounce-back year. He's been injured a lot of the time for the first two years of my tenure here and I think if he had obviously been healthy, I think he would have had the 30-goal mark this year. But he works so hard and gets in shape and is so committed that I know he'll come back with a vengeance again even next year.

On his thoughts about defenseman Jared Spurgeon:

I think for a defenseman he's in the prime of his career. We relied on him so much, especially after Dumba went down, it was Suter, Brodin and, not taking anything away from any of the other guys, but when they're playing 27, 28 minutes a night and for him to play 82 games at his size and having to tackle all of the big guys, I can only see his game getting better.

On his thoughts of returning defensemen next season:

I really do. It's funny because Ryan was really disappointed. Thought, 'Man, what a bad year.' I told him the other day, I said, 'Are you kidding? You couldn't walk from the end of March 'til August. You made it to training camp, you limped all year, or the first half of the year, just getting by. You played all 82 games. You led the NHL in minutes played and you had almost 50 points again.' I said, 'Ryan, just imagine when you have a whole summer of training and you're healthy.' This was a great stepping stone from what potentially a lot of people thought was a career-ending injury. I'm expecting more from him actually.

On his status as the Wild's head coach next season:

I heard it here. Yeah, we haven't had any discussions about it at all. I knew I had another year left on my contract and my job is to coach until I'm told not to coach anymore. So I take that as an everyday step. I come in every day and I work as hard as I can and when they don't want me to work anymore they will tell me.

On his involvement with free agency during the offseason:

That's his job but I'm there if he asks me. I can be opinionated.

On his thoughts of his core players moving forward:

You know what? You take it as it comes and you tried to mold it. You have a whole lot of things all out there and you try to mold it back into everything. I've taken over teams in the middle of the year and not known anybody and you just do that. I don't see that as being much different. But you know that under contract for next year you've got Suter, Spurgeon, Dumba, Brodin. You've got the young guns of Fiala and Donato and such. You've still got the old guards that are here, so I mean the team is quite capable right now. If things all go well, they are quite capable.

On working through player changes throughout the season:

I never take it like that. I come to work every day, and whoever's there, I coach. I've been in another organization where I didn't know who got sent down or who got called up and I'd have to look at the sweaters every day and say, 'Oh, he's here now. OK, good.' So we have to adjust on the fly like that. It doesn't matter what they throw at you. It's my job to pull it all in and make it work.

On Fenton's response to Boudreau's contract extension:

Well, it's nice to know you're working. That's a good sign. I was very thankful he asked that question because I was pretty interested in knowing myself.

On discussions about coaching techniques:

No, we haven't had that process yet. We did have a meeting on Monday for about 4 ½ hours, but that was with all the coaches regarding players. It didn't have anything to do with specifics about the coaching.

On his involvement in future talks about players:

Well, I'm always willing to share my thoughts. I can be pretty opinionated sometimes, but that's not my job description. I'm more than happy to give my part to it, but I just do what I do.

On working with Fenton:

I don't think there's ever been a time where I didn't feel comfortable talking about whatever I wanted to talk about. I've disagreed with him a few times to the point where I've said, 'Listen, I don't always mean to disagree, but it's my job to give you another idea, you know?' But we've never had disagreements as far arguments or anything like that.

On what he believes it will take to get a spot in the playoffs next season:

The way I look at is we had 101 points last year. One hundred points won the division this year. I mean, if we can get a little bit better and a little healthier, I don't see why we don't get 100 points every year. Because I can go over games right now that we just threw away, and there's at least 10 of them in there where we were either by far the better team and lost or had two or three-goal leads in the third period and blew. So if you can escape those things and move forward and be a little more consistent, then I think in my mind it's not a hard problem to get to 100-plus points again.

On his frustrations this season:

That was the frustrating thing. For me, the turnaround, when we started to go into a little bit of a dive, was when we played Washington at home and Wilson ran over Duby. It was never reported or anything, but I think he got hurt there, and then he went into a little bit of a slump, and then we played Buffalo and they scored two goals in the last seven minutes to beat us and they had no right to even be in the game. And then Phoenix scored three goals the next night in the third period, and they only ended up with 14 shots and they beat us, and I thought that was the start of us being very .500-ish.

On Devan Dubnyk's performance: 

No, that's just me thinking out loud, because for a few weeks there he was a different goalie. When he was on, and he was on most of the year, he was great for us. He held us together the first month and the last month, all the games we lost, quite frankly, you take away the empty nets were 2-1 or 1-0. We just had trouble scoring goals.

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