There won’t be a contract extension for Vancouver Canucks head coach Bruce Boudreau.
The 67-year-old coach was hired Dec. 5 by team owner Francesco Aquilini, days before the owner hired Jim Rutherford as president of hockey operations.
Boudreau’s deal, which saw him take over behind the bench for Travis Green, was to run until the end of the season and had the 2022-23 season as an option, with each party able to opt out.
Under Green, the Canucks stumbled out of the season’s starting gate with an 8-15-2 record before he was fired along with general manager Jim Benning on Dec. 5. Under Boudreau, the Canucks posted a 32-15-10 record but missed the NHL post-season by five points.
Speaking to the media Tuesday afternoon, Rutherford said he and his management team want Boudreau back — but on his current deal. So now it’s on the coach to decide whether he wants to return next fall.
“He knows we want him back. He was told that before the season was over,” Rutherford said. “He did a terrific job, but he did not coach a whole season here. And we would like to see him back and work with him on a few things. Everybody works together to make it better.”
The opt-out deadline on Boudreau’s contract is June 1, Rutherford said.
“We would be willing to have him back under the contract that he agreed to when he came here. And that’s certainly not to say that at the end of next year we wouldn’t want him back if he continues to do the job he’s doing. We have an exclusive time period to negotiate a new contract at the end of next season,” Rutherford said.
“As good a job as he’s done, it wasn’t a full season. And I feel that giving him a chance to take the team from training camp and all the way through next season, I guess we could get to a point where partway through the season we may may decide to talk about (a new contract).”
Rutherford pointed to his time in Pittsburgh, working with coach Mike Sullivan.
Sullivan won the Stanley Cup in 2015-16 and 2016-17 and in neither season did his contract get extended or reworked. The 2017-18 season was the last year of Sullivan’s deal, Rutherford said, and the veteran coach started the year without a contract extension.
It was only part way through that season that contract extension talks began.
“I firmly believe that this is the right thing to do,” Rutherford said of drawing a line with Boudreau. “In our business, you have to be cautious with your decisions. And you have to do them for the right reasons. And if you don’t, you’re going to get yourself in a position someday where you’re paying three and four coaches in the same year. And that’s when managing up will become difficult.”
If Boudreau does walk away, the new Canucks head coach would be the third in less than a year.
Boudreau has said more than once this is where he wants to be. And it seems clear that Rutherford and general manager Patrik Allvin are leaning on that, even if they aren’t going to offer him a new deal at this moment.
The state of the NHL coaching carousel is also a factor, surely. But will Boudreau find another job that’s as appealing as the one in Vancouver?
At the end of the regular season, there were five coaches with “interim” in their title: Andrew Brunette in Florida, Derek King in Chicago, Dave Lowry in Winnipeg, Jay Woodcroft in Edmonton and Mike Yeo in Philadelphia.
The Jets have said they’re now looking for a permanent hire, though Lowry is welcome to apply. The Flyers said Monday that Yeo would definitely not be back. Given how their teams have performed, Woodcroft and Brunette seem to stand a good chance of getting new contracts, but are still in interim positions.
King may be retained as Blackhawks head coach, but Chicago management is doing a search nonetheless.
John Hynes in Nashville doesn’t yet have a contract for next season, but given his team’s performance and how his players have endorsed his leadership this season, it seems likely he’ll be back.
Maybe there will be an opening in Dallas? The Stars hold a team option on Rick Bowness for next season, though they struggled for much of the season and limped into the playoffs.
There’s definitely an opening in Detroit after the Red Wings dumped Jeff Blashill.
But again, how any of these scenarios stack up with what’s here, Rutherford and Allvin seem to be saying.
ICE CHIPS — The Canucks also announced the return of the Young Stars Classic on Tuesday. The popular prospects tournament was supposed to return in 2020-21 after a one-year hiatus but was canceled because of the COVID pandemic, and plans to revive it last fall were similarly put aside. Rutherford said as many as four other teams would join the Canucks at the South Okanagan Events Center, with two already firmly committed, though he wouldn’t say who. … The team will also renovate team spaces at Rogers Arena, including rebuilding the dressing room and medical facilities. A new media center is also to be built in a new location at the arena. “It’s going to be changed in a more workable way for the medical staff and coaching staff and where the players workout and all that,” Rutherford said. … The Canucks also announced that their 2022 training camp will be in Whistler Sept. 23 to 24.
Canucks’ ‘franchise goalie’ Thatcher Demko to see more relief from ‘solid’ Spencer Martin
Canucks: Bruce Boudreau’s belief system allowed Elias Pettersson to blossom
Canucks bringing Young Stars back to Penticton, training camp to Whistler
Canucks: ‘Really hard’ season took an emotional toll on Brock Boeser
More news, fewer ads, faster load time: Get unlimited, ad-lite access to the Vancouver Sun, the Province, National Post and 13 other Canadian news sites for just $14/month or $140/year. Subscribe now through the vancouver sun or The Province.