Bruce Boudreau said he never considered quitting as coach of the Vancouver Canucks.
“I would’ve said, ‘Absolutely not. You’re going to have to drag me out,'” Boudreau said on SiriusXM on Monday, one day after he was fired by Vancouver and replaced with Rick Tocchet.
“You want me out, get me out but I’m not going to quit and I’m not going to ever give up because if you do that, you’re quitting on the players and my whole thing with the team all year was, we never quit. We never quit. We have to keep going. So, what kind of message would I be sending if I was the one that quit? So, that wasn’t going to happen.”
Boudreau, who turned 68 on Jan. 9, was hired by the Canucks to replace Travis Green on Dec. 5, 2021. At that time, the Canucks were last in the Pacific Division with an 8-15-2 record. After Boudreau took over, the Canucks were 32-15-10, missing the Stanley Cup Playoffs by two points. Vancouver announced May 13 Boudreau would return as coach.
But the Canucks started slowly, 0-5-2 in their first seven games, and things never got much better. Six days before Boudreau was fired, team president Jim Rutherford said in a news conference he’d already had conversations with possible replacements.
Asked Monday about how things were handled and his relationship with Rutherford and general manager Patrik Allvin, Boudreau didn’t want to talk about it.
“At some point, maybe I’ll feel compelled to say some things,” Boudreau said. “But right now, I’ll leave that stuff private, and we’ll move on to another topic.”
Before back-to-back home games against the Colorado Avalanche and Edmonton Oilers on Friday and Saturday, Boudreau got emotional, speaking as if he knew he was coaching his final games.
At each game in Vancouver, he was serenaded with “Bruce, there it is” from fans at Rogers Place. Before leaving the bench Saturday, he gave a thank-you wave to the fans.
“It was pretty overwhelming,” he said. “I texted my wife before the game and I said, ‘I think this is going to be a tough game,’ and that stuff at the end, it was pretty crazy. I would never have expected it and when I stood on the bench at the end, looking at the crowd and thinking is-this-the-end-type thing, that’s when it sort of caught up to me.
“But the fans were great. They’re very, very passionate in Vancouver. If this team could ever get a winner, you’d want to be here because it’s loud. It’s probably very similar to if Toronto wins that first round of the playoffs this year, the second and the third round, if that’s where it goes, that place is going to be unbelievable.”
The Canucks (18-25-3) have lost 10 of their past 12 games and are sixth in the eight-team Pacific, 14 points behind the Avalanche for the second wild card into the playoffs from the Western Conference. They are 31st in the NHL in goals against per game (3.96) and last on the penalty kill (65.9 percent).
Vancouver has been without goalie Thatcher Demko because of a lower-body injury since Dec. 1.
“Whether you’re a good team or a bad team, goaltending is everything in hockey. If you have it, then it makes you look a lot better and if you don’t have it, it makes you look a lot worse,” Boudreau said. “‘Thatch’ by his own recollection will tell you he struggled early on and then he got hurt for the last 31 games.”
Boudreau, who has an NHL career record of 617-342-128 in the 1,087 regular-season games with the Canucks, Minnesota Wild, Anaheim Ducks and Washington Capitals, said he hasn’t soured on coaching.
“I wouldn’t sway from it. I could’ve gone back to work yesterday,” Boudreau said.
He also said he has no regrets from his time in Vancouver.
“I don’t think I would’ve done an awful lot different right now,” he said. “I went with the same philosophy and theories that I’ve always had as a coach, and it seemed to work. It didn’t seem to me there was any need to change systems-wise, because we still had the same core as we had the year before.
“We ended up changing it partial way through [the season] and we changed our neutral zone and penalty killing. When things aren’t working you change things. At the start of the season and through the summer, I didn’t think there was any need to change anything. I was just pumped up to play as most teams are.
“It’s just something that didn’t work out and that’s an unfortunate thing because it wasn’t through lack of effort from anybody. As a matter of fact, if anything, we worked harder as coaches, we worked harder as players, to get and try and make this thing work.”