Bruce Boudreau, who was fired by the Vancouver Canucks on Sunday, said the speculation about his job impacted the performance of his players.
The Canucks replaced Boudreau, 68, with former Arizona Coyotes coach and TNT broadcaster Rick Tocchet after weeks of speculation about the move. Boudreau’s final games in Vancouver featured fans chanting his name in support, and, according to the coach, some players were distracted by the public nature of the process.
“In between periods, it was like trying to get blood out of a stone. I mean, they wanted to go, but they just didn’t have that energy that they had been bringing to games every night,” said Boudreau during an interview on SiriusXM NHL Network Radio on Monday.
The Canucks went 1-10-1 in Boudreau’s last 12 games behind the bench.
Boudreau and his staff anticipated that the end was near before that 12-game stretch. “I would tell the other coaches that we’ve got 12 games against the best teams in the league. If we don’t do good, it’s gonna be for sure after this because our schedule lightens up a lot right now,” he said.
Boudreau’s future as Vancouver coach was in doubt from the start of the season. He was hired by Canucks ownership before president of hockey operations Jim Rutherford and general manager Patrik Allvin were hired — two individuals who knew Tocchet from their days with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Rutherford was critical of Boudreau’s performance in several media interviews and indicated that Boudreau entered this season as head coach out of contractual obligation.
Boudreau said he and his coaches had been thinking about their fates for “an awful long time” before Sunday’s firing.
“Sometimes when we’d meet in the morning, that was more of the topic of conversation than what we were doing that day,” he told SiriusXM NHL Network Radio.
“Every morning we’d go in and we’d look to see if this was the day that the shoe would drop. When we didn’t hear from it, we’d just go back to work. It was a different scenario than getting caught by surprise. The only surprise was when was it gonna happen,” he said. “Then everything got leaked out and the whole world knew that the other night against Edmonton was gonna be the last game I’d coached for them.”
Boudreau was adamant that he would never step aside for an interim coach during his lame duck status.
“I would’ve said absolutely not. I mean, you’re gonna have to drag me out,” he said. “My whole thing with the team all year was that we never quit. We gotta keep going. So what kind of message would I be sending if I was the one that quit?”
He declined to comment on his relationship with Rutherford and Allvin. “It is a sensitive area, and that’s the one portion of this thing that I’d really rather not talk about in public,” he said.
Boudreau has coached 15 seasons in the NHL with the Washington Capitals, Anaheim Ducks, Minnesota Wild and Canucks, posting a .626 career points percentage, the second highest in NHL history for coaches with at least 1,000 games coached.
He said he’d like to coach again in the NHL, saying, “I could have gone back to work yesterday.”