PENTICTON, BC – The question that has flared up more than ever since Bruce Boudreaux replaced Travis Green as coach of the Vancouver Canucks over nine months ago was finally answered on Friday, six days before training camp began.
Yes, Boudreau also has a ski workout to test players’ endurance and fitness. But it’s not the time periods of Green’s infamous “40s” and it won’t be on camp opening day. So Whistler’s ice crew may not need the vomit scrapers needed at former camps due to the fallout from the infamous Greene drills.
It took the Abbotsford ice crew several passes to clear Connor Garland’s breakfast spot last year.
“I always have a ski test, but it won’t be in the first week,” Boudreaux said Friday in an interview with Sportsnet ahead of the Canucks’ Young Stars tournament here. Every coach, and I mean every coach, wants to be known as: ‘My bootcamp is the hardest. That was always the thing. I mean, from Roger Nelson and my five-mile run, Tortorella was torture, my ski test, no one wants to be soft. But I want to run a camp where everyone knows which way we’re going to play by week one. Then we build on that.”
So much happened about the Canucks last season, and in the summer that followed, it’s easy to forget that this would be Boudreaux’s first training camp with the team.
Other than the apparent promotion up front, where Russian free agents Ilya Mikheev and Andrei Kuzmenko were signed to play in the top nine and Curtis Lazar to center the fourth streak, Boudreau’s team is largely unchanged from the team that missed the playoffs by six points. last spring.
Of course, it also wasn’t much changed from the team that went 32-15-10 under Boudreau – winning percentage 0.649 which is comfortably a playoff over 82 games – and had the second-best NHL play and third-best game goal.
“We are going to disable our systems knowing exactly how to play,” Boudreaux said. “Honestly, in the regular season, I’ve always been successful at doing the same things. I don’t understand why I would change. We’ve modified a few things with new coaches and everything, and they have new ideas. But for the most part, we want to play the same way, which is to be a team. In-your-face, hard-to-face, and sexy offensive.”
Boudreaux said he thinks the team is better, due to the added speed and skill on the flanks, and offered some hints on how to deploy the players.
• He likes the idea of putting JT Miller, Bo Horvat and Elias Pettersson in the center, instead of using Pettersson on the wing, because there are now enough talented wingers to build the top nine players who can score.
• Boudreau confirmed that distinguished defender Queen Hughes will turn to the right side from the left, at least for the training camp, and is likely to be next to Oliver Ekman-Larson in a new duo.
• He wants to better manage the workload of star goalkeeper Thatcher Demko, who played in 64 games last season before collapsing in April, but that will depend on how well goalkeeper Spencer Martin plays.
“I think Betty can play with anyone,” Boudreaux said of Peterson, who moved between the lines and positions last season, scoring 28 goals and 56 points under the new coach. “I think he’s proven that he can play any kind of game. Like, I watched all these games again this summer, and . . . he’s a physical player. I still think the sky’s the limit if he’s healthy.”
By playing Pettersson at the center, Boudreau said, even if it’s theoretically on the third line, one of Pettersson, Horvat or Miller will get a useful match.
“I think it’s easy to say that no one will really be classified as a third line player because most of them will be in the position of strength,” he said. “Our third streak last year was Tyler Mott, Juhu Lamiko and Matthew Highmore. They were killing shootouts, but their role (even on the force) was to make sure the other team didn’t score. And they did a great job at that. But I think the so-called third streak will be asked. For this year to score.
“There are a lot of rolling parts here. Believe me when I say I passed it 5,000 times this summer.”
After turning down an extension by new general manager Patrick Alvin and President Jim Rutherford, Boudreaux will take over the final season of a two-year contract he signed with Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini in December.
After sharp remarks at the end of the year by Rutherford about the “structure” of the Canucks under Boudreaux and how poorly the team came out of its defensive zone, the coach only had the same men of defense to work with. Alvin arrived at Mikheev from the Toronto Maple Leafs and Kuzmenko from the Continental Hockey League, but failed in his stated mission to raise the bar over the summer.
“You know what, I think they’re really underrated,” Boudreaux said of his Blue Line group. “I’ve worked in my head and on video a lot on that, and we’ll be better (in the exits). Yes, we want great exits. Everyone does. At the same time, I prefer to be a great defense. I think in the last 57 games we were the third best defensive team. We might have been defending a little bit but we protected ourselves from mistakes and had a good goal. I won’t apologize for the good goalkeepers.”
The Canucks sank themselves in the last two seasons by starting 8-14-2 in 2020-21 and 6-14-2 last year, which is why Boudreau is desperate to re-establish the success and positivity the team has enjoyed over the last 57 games. .
Vancouver kicks off the season with a five-game road trip starting October 12 in Edmonton.
Boudreau’s next win will be 600The tenth in the NHL.
“I don’t know if there is anyone who can read the future,” the 67-year-old said. “But I believe . . . awareness of Game 1 and the importance of Game 1 could mean a lot more this year than it did last year. It makes life a lot easier if you can go further down the curve instead of having to catch up.
“I think we improved. Who knows how much?”