For the second time in as many seasons, a coaching change looks imminent for the Vancouver Canucks. The big difference this season is how Canucks management is treating head coach Bruce Boudreau. Between multiple comments about the coach from President of Hockey Operations Jim Rutherford to the team’s overall play, it is time for Vancouver to stop drawing out this process and make a coaching change.
Despite a consistently mentioned friendship between Rutherford and Boudreau, the comments made throughout the season by the President of Hockey Operations have been questionable. Starting at the beginning of the season, live on After Hours, he mentioned how the Canucks played poorly in the preseason, and that was one of the reasons behind Vancouver’s poor start to the season. During that same press conference, Rutherford also revealed he didn’t know Boudreau’s contract had an option for a second year and made the point that it wasn’t his management group that extended the coach. This was the first comment that indicated he wasn’t necessarily happy with the decision and put Boudreau in an awkward situation.
Throughout the season, more comments have been made specifically calling out the Canucks’ lack of structure, which is a direct shot at Boudreau’s coaching style. The most telling comment, however, was during Rutherford’s press conference on Jan. 16, 2023, where he openly admitted to contacting people about potential coaching replacements not just recently but over the past few months. While Rutherford did follow up by saying Boudreau is still the coach, it is another example of the President of Hockey Operations throwing a shot at a coach he clearly doesn’t want behind the bench.
Rick Tocchet Reports
To add even more fuel to the fire, it has been reported by multiple sources that current TNT analyst Rick Tocchet is set to become the next head coach of the Canucks. Tocchet has ties to Rutherford as he was part of his coaching staff in Pittsburgh from 2014-17. This begs the question, if they already have a new coach, why keep Boudreau around, and what motivation does the coach have if he knows any day could be his last behind the bench?
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The reported reason Tocchet hasn’t been officially named coach is due to his contract with TNT, but if the Canucks already plan on hiring him, stringing Boudreau along this long makes no sense. With Mike Yeo and Trent Cull already part of the staff, Vancouver could easily name one an interim coach until their preferred choice is available. Unless Vancouver intends on keeping the coaching staff the way it currently is, there is no reasonable argument as to why they haven’t made a coaching change yet.
Boudreau is one of the most beloved coaches in hockey. He always has a smile on his face and has connected with the fan base to the point a “Bruce there it is” chant breaks out whenever the Canucks are winning at home. His recent demeanor though shows just how stressful and difficult this situation has become as Vancouver continues to lose and a replacement is imminent.
The most telling comment came after the Canucks fell 4-3 to the Florida Panthers on Jan. 14, 2023. When asked about his future with the team, Boudreau responded, “I just wake up everyday and go to work until they tell me not to.” He understands his time with the organization is coming to a close, yet still is willing to put in the time and effort to try and guide this team to success. He is showing the organization a level of respect by honouring his side of the contract despite the unfair treatment they have exhibited towards him this season.
Bruce Boudreau Deserves Better
Coaching in the NHL, especially in a Canadian market, is tough, but as stated, the treatment of Boudreau by the Canucks organization has been unfair. It has even gotten so bad that fans and media members are calling out the behaviour on social media, adding to the problems this organization already faces. Despite the fact that he deserves more time behind the bench, the situation has become so toxic that a coaching change should be made ASAP.
Adam is excited to be joining The Hockey Writers as part of the Seattle Kraken and Vancouver Canucks team. His work can also be found at area51sportsnet.com where he covers the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League.