Hamilton Bulldogs head coach Guy Boucher on coming back to the minors after an NHL stint.
While I have a ton of respect for Boucher’s hockey acumen, I’d also add that part of why those players struggle is because of the ‘system’ (for lack of a better word) we play in Montreal. It happened last year when Don Lever was in charge of the AHL affiliate (remember how good Matt D’Agostini looked through his first few NHL games?), and it’s happening now. Players look great when they’re first called up, then gradually they lose their momentum as they’re forced to play this dated, passive trap.
Hiring coaches whose ideas about defensive hockey are stuck in the ’90s was Bob Gainey’s trademark as GM. Either that or Kirk Muller (swoon), the only coaching holdover from last season, is doing something horribly wrong. It’s what tends to happen when you hire based on personal connection rather than experience and/or ability. Muller’s coaching experience prior to joining the Canadiens was at the university level. No NHL background. Not even an AHL background. Yet here he is today, assistant coach of the most storied franchise in NHL history (he sure is nice to look at, though).
Whatever the cause of the Canadiens’ woes, Guy Boucher has his Bulldogs humming along (first in their division, second in the conference), a feat made even more impressive by the fact that the Habs have called up 17 different Bulldog players over the course of the current season. If the Canadiens’ playoff hopes finally do implode, Pierre Gauthier could do a lot worse than putting Boucher behind the CH bench. By all accounts, he’s smart, creative, and focused. He coaches meticulously without being a micro-manager, and knows how to get the most out of young players. Don’t be surprised if you see Boucher in the NHL sooner rather than later.