VANCOUVER, British Columbia — The Avalanche’s visit to Vancouver happened to coincide with a wobbly organization’s turmoil reaching its apex.
For several days, reports have swirled from TSN’s Chris Johnston and others that the Canucks are negotiating a deal to hire former Avalanche assistant Rick Tocchet as their new head coach — all while Bruce Boudreau has remained the man in charge, and the man in limbo.
In Boudreau’s news conference Friday, the veteran coach made reporters laugh, then the questions almost made him cry.
“Fooled you, eh?” he said as he arrived for the interview after being absent on the ice during morning skate. “… There’s a lot of media here. I’ve got my wife phoning me, saying, ‘You’re not on the ice! Is everything OK?’ So you guys are getting it out all over the country.”
Boudreau, who has coached the Canucks, Capitals, Ducks and Wild throughout his career, politely cut the availability short when he started to get emotional in response to a question about what it means to him to be an NHL head coach. “I’ll talk later,” he said.
Boudreau said he didn’t say anything to his players Friday about the awkward circumstances of his likely firing, “but there might be things said tomorrow.”
“I’d be a fool to say I don’t know what’s going on,” he said when asked if he will savor Vancouver’s upcoming back-to-back. Getting emotional, he added: “You come to work and you realize how great the game is.”
Avalanche coach Jared Bednar, a South Carolina Stingrays alum, overlapped with Boudreau’s time in the Capitals organization. Bednar declined to comment on the specifics of Vancouver’s situation, but he said he has enjoyed his interactions with Boudreau over the years.
“I went to a bunch of his camps and whatnot,” Bednar said. “Good guy. Good coach.”
The Avalanche game is Boudreau’s 1,086th as an NHL head coach. He has a .628 point percentage. The Canucks are 18-23-3 but have beaten Colorado in both previous meetings this season, including a two-goal comeback earlier in January.
“It’s hard not to get up against the Stanley Cup champions,” Boudreau said.
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