Bruce poses with his sons Ben and Andy. (Photo credit: ahclub.info)
With the NHL lockout forcing another cancellation of games– this time through January 14th, some hockey lifers are desperate to fill the hours. That’s why, at the end of last week, former Washington Capitals head coach Bruce Boudreau did a telephone interview with the Asnières Castors — a hockey club based near Paris, France. Boudreau had good reason to call though: to show support to his 28-year-old son Ben, who is currently a forward for the team.
The Q/A is pretty pedestrian: Boudreau speaks about the lockout, Cristobal Huet, and his philosophy on coaching. Things get juicy, however, when Bruce is asked which of his former players he’d build a team around. He did not choose Alex Ovechkin.
You’ve coached a lot of famous players. If you were to keep one, which one would you choose?
That’s a good question. There are a lot of players I would consider. The first person that comes to mind would be Nick Backstrom. A number-one center is a big position to fill, and they are hard to find. He is a great leader on and off the ice who can play in all situations. This is a quality person around whom you can build a team.
Boudreau has had the opportunity to coach a bunch of talented players. He’s coached sure-fire hall of famer Teemu Selanne, 2010 MVP Corey Perry, and two-time Norris nominee Mike Green.
Choosing Backstrom over Ovechkin is a bit curious. Ovi won two MVP awards under Boudreau’s tutelage and was arguably the team’s best player throughout his tenure. Perhaps the friction that developed between them towards the end of Boudreau’s time in Washington, including the benching that led to Ovi calling Bruce something that rhymes with hat muck, factors into the decision.
The Capitals struggled last season as Nicklas Backstrom dealt with a concussion most of the year. Since signing with Dynamo Moscow, Backstrom has put up numbers more dazzling than Ovechkin. Both are elite players, and the question nags: Who would you pick? Ovechkin or Backstrom?