June 12, 2008

Bruce Boudreau - A Very Deserving Coach of the Year

While I would like to give mad props to Ovie for winning the Hart Trophy, becoming the first-ever Washington Capital to win the trophy, I think the real story goes to Bruce Boudreau, head coach of the Caps, who became the first Capitals head coach since Bryan Murray in 1984 to win the Jack Adams Trophy as NHL Coach of the Year.
For those who may have forgetten since the NHL season lasts about as long as it takes Vince Young to complete an untimed Wonderlic test, the Caps were positively woeful when Boudreau took over on November 22, 2007 from Glen Hanlon. I was at the game on November 21, 2007, when the Caps fell to the Atlanta Thrashers 5-1, the chants of "Fire Hanlon" echoed continuously and mercilessly throughout the rafters, and the team fell to a brutal 6-14-1. Boudreau started righting the ship slowly, but at the all-star break, the team was still in 14th place in the Eastern Conference, next to last.
The Caps upswing continued throughout Boudreau's tenure, and his aggressive style allowed Ovechkin and Semin to flourish. When the team made it back to the .500 mark, Boudreau was famously quoted as saying, "We have officially reached mediocrity." The Capitals amazingly over the second half of the season went from 14th place in the Eastern Conference to a final finish in 3rd place in the Eastern Conference. The Caps clinched the Southeast Division crown on the final night of the regular season. The team made the playoffs for the first time since 1993. All in all, Boudreau led the team to an unbelievable 37-17-7 record.

Bruce Boudreau proves looks matter not for a hockey coach. Ehh, Barry Melrose?

Most importantly, Boudreau may have resurrected hockey back in the Nation's Capital. When I went to the game in November against the Thrashers, there were maybe a few thousand fans in the cavernous Verizon Center. By mid-March, when I went to a game while the Caps were at least making things interesting, the place was nearing being full. And for those who had the fortune of going to a game over the last two weeks of the season during the playoff push, you saw that DC really can be a hockey town.

Things are looking good for the Capitals with such a strong backbone for the future. And it appears as if they have a coach who knows how to use the tools that he has been given.

1 Responses:

tom said...

correction. you say the team made the playoffs for the first time since 1993. They actually made the Stanley Cup finals in 1998

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