Bruce Boudreau has dedicated his life to the game of hockey. After starring in junior, he played professional hockey for 17 seasons before getting into coaching.
Boudreau worked his way up the ranks for the next 18 years, through the CoHL, IHL, ECHL, and AHL, before eventually getting his big break with the Washington Capitals in 2007. He found quick success at the NHL level and has never looked back, now with 14 years of NHL head coaching experience with Washington, Anaheim, and Minnesota.
Speaking with Jason Podollan at our 2020 Virtual Hockey Summit, Boudreau shared what he has learned during a lifetime in the game.
Boudreau admitted that he thought the NHL was going to be easy, as a talented player coming out of junior.
“What I found out is, not doing that, not training like I should, not probably being in the condition that I should have been to be at the NHL level… I didn’t realize the dedication that it took to be a full-time NHL player until maybe I was 27… If I had to go back over again, I would have respected what I had to do a lot more… and taking the game a lot more serious when I played it.”
When Boudreau was trying to break into the NHL with the Toronto Maple Leafs, he recalled getting into an argument with Roger Neilson, which he says helped him down the road.
“‘You don’t play a 200-foot game’ [Roger] says. ‘You’re not going to score 50 in the NHL. So you better learn how to play defence’ and he taught me right from there.”
Boudreau fancied himself as a scorer, but when he was called up from the minors, it was to play on the fourth line, not the first line.
“I was never called up to be a No. 1 centre in the NHL from the minors, you’re usually stuck on the fourth line. So I better learn how to check because that’s the way I’m going to be there,” Boudreau recalled. “Roger taught me that and it stayed with me and I think that’s part of knowing both ends at an early age, and it made me a lot better coach when I got to be able to coach. ”
Check out the free preview above and sign up for a membership to The Coaches Site to view the full one-hour and eight-minute interview with Boudreau.