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Monday, January 30, 2023

Bruce Boudreau deserved better than the hand the Canucks dealt him

Welcome to Top-Shelf Takes, a weekly series from staff writer Mary Clarke all about the NHL. Lace up your skates as we dive deep into the epic highs and lows of this little sport called hockey.

It’s never easy being let go from your job. Take it from someone who has gone through the process multiple times: frankly, it sucks a lot!

Bruce Boudreau, unfortunately, was dealt the worst hand imaginable in his final few weeks with the Vancouver Canucks. His eventual firing — and the subsequent hiring of Rick Tocchet — was public knowledge for weeks in hockey circles. So much so that Boudreau was gracefully answering media questions about the topic just a few days before his firing.

It’s safe to say the Canucks handled this business in the most unprofessional way imaginable. If you’re going to fire someone, be quick about it. Don’t let the person twist in the wind for weeks waiting for the sword to fall. And yet, that’s exactly what they did to Boudreau, who had to endure public speculation on his job status for weeks because the Canucks front office didn’t want to name an interim head coach for the remainder of the season.

Let’s be clear, Boudreau is not at fault at all for what happened with the Canucks this season. Boudreau ended his Vancouver tenure with a 50-40-13 record. He singlehandedly turned the Canucks around last season and despite not making it to the playoffs, Boudreau earned the respect of Vancouver fans for the work he put in that made the team better even for just a short period of time.

Vancouver fans weren’t the only people to hold Boudreau in high regard either, as according to an interview with the former coach in The AthleticCanucks players were quite emotional after his final game, a 4-2 loss to the Edmonton Oilers.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” Boudreau said. “All of us, almost all the players and me, were crying in the room. It was crazy. Like, I mean, you’d have to see it to believe it because it’s hard to believe it just saying it.”

It’s hard to say if Boudreau will coach again in the NHL. Since 2007-08, Boudreau has coached 1,087 games, with a 617-342-128 record. Apparently, according to The Athletic‘s Michael Russo, hockey fans will likely see Boudreau on their televisions sooner rather than later, as the former coach is already lining up TV appearances.

All the respect in the world to Boudreau for publicly handling this terrible situation with class. It’s a real shame the Canucks organization couldn’t extend the same to Boudreau on his way out.

3. Teammates hilarious prepare Johnny Gaudreau for his return to Calgary

Gaudreau made his long-awaited return to Calgary on Monday and his Columbus Blue Jacket teammates helped him prepare in the best way possible: with boos during practice!

Love a good team-bonding exercise.

2. Blackhawks wild win streak drops them out of last place for Connor Bedard

The race to last place is going to be the most fascinating story to watch in the second half of this NHL season. With a chance to draft Bedard on the line, any team out of a playoff spot should be doing whatever they can to lose as many games as possible. The Blackhawks, however, have gone 6-2-0 in their last few weeks of play, dropping them out of last place as the Blue Jackets have rushed in to fill their spot.

Who knows, by next week maybe the Coyotes will be in last place!

1. Mathieu Joseph, Pierre-Olivier Joseph elicit incredible reactions out of their parents

It’s always great when two siblings play one another in sports, but this one was for the ages. The Joseph brothers — Mathieu Joseph of the Senators and Pierre-Olivier Joseph of the Penguins — played one another on Friday for the first time and somehow took high sticking penalties on the other at the same time. The reaction from their parents says it all.

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

Canucks hire Rick Tocchet for what now?

Back to the Canucks for a brief moment. According to NHL insider Elliotte Friedman, one of the reasons Vancouver brought in Tocchet is because they believe the coach can get through to the recently-maligned J.T. Miller.

Miller has rubbed many in Vancouver the wrong way thanks to his poor on-ice play and outbursts against teammates. Before this season, Miller was signed to a seven year, $56 million contract set to kick in next season. It’s not a great look that one of the major reasons the Canucks signed their new head coach to a contract is so he can manage one of the team’s major sore spots even before his big pay day kicks in!

Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Devils vs. Golden Knights – Tuesday, January 24

The Golden Knights are coming into this matchup a bit down on their luck after going 5-5-0 in their last 10 games. Still, this is a game between two highly talented teams and a possible Stanley Cup Final matchup if things break right for both teams.

Lightning vs. Bruins – Thursday, January 26

Speaking of talent, the Bruins are the best team in the NHL this season — bar none — but the Lightning are no slouches in their own right either. Right now, Boston is on a historic pace to win 66 games, which would break the record the Lightning themselves hold at 62. Drama!

Avalanche vs. Blues – Saturday, January 28

The Avalanche have climbed back into a playoff spot after an incredibly rough and injury-riddled season. That being said, the Blues certainly aren’t out of it yet, so expect a playoff-like atmosphere for this one given all that is at stake.

You can watch the 2022-23 NHL season streaming on ESPN+.



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