While new Minnesota Wild assistant coach Scott Stevens recently met Bruce Boudreau, John Anderson and Boudreau have known each other for years.
Anderson, named the newest Minnesota Wild assistant coach to Boudreau's staff, on Wednesday, played junior hockey for the Toronto Malboros with Boudreau. They remained teammates on the Dallas Blackhawks, the Toronto Maple Leafs, and the Fort Wayne Komets.
It was then when Anderson learned Boudreau, nicknamed "Gabby" for his talkative personality, was a straight shooter.
"That's the beautiful thing about Gabby: You get what you see," Anderson said. "He doesn't put on any airs. That's what kind of endears him. He doesn't try to be someone he's not."
Not much has changed since their playing days, according to Anderson, who said his prior relationship with Bodureau played a big hand in his decision to come to Minnesota and join Boudreau's new staff. Anderson was most recently the head coach of the Chicago Wolves, the American League affiliate of the St. Louis Blues, and previously coached in the NHL with the Atlanta Thrashers and Phoenix Coyotes.
"No question," Anderson said. "No question," Anderson said. "Our careers are kind of very similar in the fact that we went down to the lowest level to learn the craft. Not too many people would want to do that."
When Boudreau was introduced as the Wild's new head coach, Anderson thought it would be a good idea to reach out to him and feel out the possibility of working with his former teammate.
When he was hired by the Wild, Boudreau said one of his strengths is the diversity of his playing and coaching career has afforded him the opportunities to find himself in any situation: there is nothing he hasn't faced.
Similarly, Anderson thinks his broad-ranging resume will benefit him as he transitions back to the NHL level.
"Every year you coach, I don't think you necessarily get smarter, but you learn more," Anderson said. "Every level that I've coached at has really helped me become a better coach moving along.
"Everyone talks about the championship years, but those other years, a couple of very struggling years there, makes you dig down, and try to get better. Every year you coach, it's a learning process, and when you stop learning as a coach, that's when you stop coaching."
One thing Anderson will be charged with on Boudreau's staff is working with the power play.
Though Anderson is still green, and hasn't had a chance to dive into the personnel or the specifics of how the Wild's power play has functioned, he did have some thoughts on what could make it effective.
"Score goals," he said with a laugh. "No, there are a couple of things. Having set plays is one thing, but execution of the plays, and the quickness and movement of the puck is tremendous, because if you hold the puck too long, defenses are so good right now that they get back into position very quickly.
"How quickly you can move the puck, and creating 2-on-1's in certain areas of the ice."
What Anderson does know about the Wild is based mostly on its first-round victory against the St. Louis Blues in the 2015 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
"The reason that they beat St. Louis was because of their speed and their tenacity on the puck," he said. "That's one thing I know about them. Obviously you've got some superstars there in (Ryan) Suter and (Zach) Parise."
Anderson said the Wild is a team ready to win now, and that he's excited to be reunited with his former teammate.
This time around, it was Anderson who reached out to Boudreau about joining forces. But about 26 years ago, it was Boudreau who made a call to Anderson, trying to convince him to come play for the Fort Wayne Komets of the East Coast Hockey League.
"I didn't want to play anymore, and he talked me into coming to training camp," Anderson said. "He said, 'If you don't like it, you can always go home. It's just two weeks of your life.' So I went out there, and it was a good training camp, and I was playing with Bruce, and we went to the finals.
"It was one of the most exciting and rewarding times playing I've ever had as a pro."