Late last night, the Minnesota Wild hired Bruce Boudreau to be their next head coach. The Wild, who lost to the top-ranked Stars in six games, underachieved badly to start the year off under Mike Yeo. John Torchetti righted the ship pretty quickly though, which to be honest, was going to be hard not to do with a team as talented as the Wild in a top-heavy Western Conference.
Boudreau and Minnesota are pretty much counterparts – they might have regular season success, but neither the coach nor the franchise can quite get over the playoff hunt.
The Wild made some noise a few years ago after going to get Ryan Suter and Zach Parise in the same offseason, but their championship window is beginning to close. Suter and Parise are both 31. Believe it or not, their stoic captain Mikko Koivu isn’t 1,872 years old, but he’s no young pup, as he’s 33. The good Christian folk on their team, like Jarrett Stoll, 33, and Thomas Vanek, 32, are starting to slow down. Jason Pominville is 33. Devan Dubnyk is 30. In case you don’t get it by now, I named the entire core of the team, save Charlie Coyle, and they will need their guys like Nino Niederreiter, Erik Haula Justin Fontaine and so on to keep developing. Boudreau is a great coach for that. He can get this team to be a potential top-four seed in the Western Conference.
What he won’t do is win in the playoffs. In his career, Boudreau has won 409 games (201 with Washington, 208 with Anaheim). He has a winning percentage of .659. He has eight division titles. That’s a pretty good resume for a guy who looks like Henry J. Waternoose III from Monster’s Inc..
But he’s 41-40 in the playoffs, which is a complete disappointment considering how much talent he always had on those Capitals and Ducks teams. In Washington, he never got the Caps to as much as the Conference Finals. After missing the playoffs in the first year he was in Anaheim, he got to the Western Conference Finals once. He’s coached teams that have included Alex Ovechkin, Niklas Backstrom, Mike Green, Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry and Ryan Kesler. I know hockey isn’t a one-man team type of game, but he had some quality talent and some good seedings, but every April/May, the wheels would fall off the wagon.
Boudreau was the best coach on the market without a question. I’d be remiss to say that (not quite sure if I used that word correctly). But is this the best coach for the Wild? That remains to be seen. Wild fans want a Cup pretty recently. This team has underperformed based on all the talent on their roster and all the money their ownership has spent to get it. Since their magical run to the Western Conference Finals in 2002-03 as a second-year expansion franchise, they haven’t had playoff success. I probably would’ve given Torchetti a chance to continue if I was management. I get he’s always been passed over for coaching jobs, only holding interim positions, but he obviously was doing something right. That entire series against Dallas, a team that was clearly better than Minnesota, proved to be really exciting. The Stars were in it even if it appeared they weren’t. I’m skeptical of the sign because, at this point, you know what you’re going to get with Bruce Boudreau as your coach.
Picture from Yahoo Sports.