Bruce, there it is were the chants from Vancouver Canucks in the stands of Rogers Arena.
We all know the chants referred to head coach Bruce Boudreau. Ever since he arrived in Vancouver in early December 2021, those chants were a sign that the team was winning and the fans were having fun.
However, on Saturday night when the Canucks fell 4-2 to the Edmonton Oilers, the chants meant something different.
It was the worst-kept secret in the NHL. The Canucks were looking to fire Boudreau and bring in Rick Tocchet as his replacement. This had been known for weeks. It was heavily speculated that Saturday night against the Oilers would be Boudreau’s last game as Canucks head coach.
As the fans serenaded Boudreau with the Bruce, there it is chants, the popular head coach couldn’t hold back his emotions. If this doesn’t make you feel emotional, I don’t know what to tell you.
On Sunday morning, it was official: The Canucks fired Boudreau and assistant coach Trent Cull. Along with Tocchet, Adam Foote is coming in as assistant head coach and Sergei Gonchar has been named defensive development coach.
Boudreau was emotional during his final post-game press conference and even revealed some of the players were as well.
Boudreau leaves the Canucks with a 50-40-13 record in 103 games. He has the fourth-highest winning percentage among Canucks head coaches.
We all know Boudreau is a good coach. He has coached over 1000 NHL games and has won 617 of them. Boudreau is a coach the players like to have and he is an even better person with his light-hearted personality. He truly is one of the good guys in hockey and his passion for the game was clear.
The Canucks upper brass didn’t treat him that way.
As mentioned, it was clear Boudreau was going to get the boot. He knew it, we all knew it. But he had to come into work knowing he was going to get canned sooner or later.
The Canucks organization should be ashamed and embarrassed for their treatment of Boudreau. That is no way to treat an employee, let alone a professional hockey coach. It was just bad optics all around. The results? Boudreau and the players were in tears and an already angry fanbase that has become even angrier and more apathetic.
Boudreau deserved better and wasn’t the problem. Sure, there were some questionable lineup decisions but he isn’t the reason why the Canucks have one of the most expensive and worst defensive cores in the NHL. Nor is he the reason why the team is capped out.
Boudreau deserved a better roster too. Imagine if the defence was upgraded in the summer and management committed to a rebuild.
It’s a shame that we never got to see Boudreau coach a Canucks playoff game. It’s a bigger shame that he was treated and disrespected this way. This falls on Francesco Aquilini, Jim Rutherford, Patrik Allvin and the rest of the management and ownership group.
Rutherford did speak about the situation on Sunday but it wasn’t really an apology.
He also said this:
About a week ago, Rutherford did say that he was making calls on a possible coaching change. So it wasn’t speculation that drove this after all.
Rutherford also said that Boudreau is his friend. Well, this is no way to treat a friend. This is like how Greg Heffley treated Rowley Jefferson in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series. Well, as Bring Me The Horizon put it: True friends stab you in the front. Looks like that is what Rutherford did to Boudreau.
But this whole thing with Boudreau proves that the Canucks organization is a dysfunctional mess. It was clear over the past few years and it can’t be more clear now. Gone are the days when the Canucks were a respectable organization that set the standard for others.
The Canucks are a skyscraper under construction but the architects want to get it done faster by installing the floors when the steel skeleton isn’t half finished. I don’t know much about architecture but I do know you have the steel skeleton in place before you install the floors. As the building comes crashing down, the architects blame one of the engineers instead of taking accountability and they fire him and replace him with another guy. The head architect? He’s nowhere to be seen.
This sounds familiar? It should be.
I have never seen a coach get treated this badly in hockey or any other sport. What usually happens is that the coach is the guy who takes the fall and it happens more often than you think. But the Canucks had a coach that was loved by the fanbase and was forced to stay behind the bench even though his bosses have his replacement lined up.
A year ago when Jim Benning was fired, it looked like that was the franchise’s low point. Now here we are over a year later and this feels the lowest as every day is a new low for the Canucks.
As for Tocchet, we’ll see how he does with this group and fixing the historically bad penalty kill and dealing with JT Miller were highlighted in his introductory presser.
He also made this interesting analogy which I (and many others) didn’t know was a reference to a Desmond Tutu quote. Looks like Tocchet is off to a great start in Vancouver.
As for Boudreau, I hope he finds another coaching job in the NHL soon. He already has the pedigree of a great NHL coach and is an even better person. It still is despicable how his time with the Canucks ended.
Bruce, there it is. Bruce, there it was. And Bruce, there it shall always be.