New head coach moves the Canucks into an era of success

Bruce Boudreau’s meticulous yet humorous coaching style put emphasis on counter attacks.

With a large and previously disappointed fanbase, the Vancouver Canucks have been a developing team with skilled players and an eager to win mindset, however they have never had the coaching to win the playoffs by utilizing their strengths, until now.

In his debut game as Canucks Head Coach, Bruce Boudreau led his team to a 4-0 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights. Soon after, the Canucks went on a 7-game win streak, tying the NHL record for the longest win streak to begin a tenure with a new team. 

Fans had begun calling the Canucks sudden winning ways, “the Boudreau Effect.”

After the firing of Travis Greene in late 2021, the Vancouver Canucks needed a new head coach to help the team turn around and start winning. The team had done enough rebuilding to start attempting to make the playoffs and to win the Stanley Cup. They signed Bruce Boudreau, ex-head coach of the Minnesota Wild, a coach who has experience in the playoffs.

Bruce Boudreau uses an open-arm style in which he’s positive and completely honest about the weaknesses of each player as well as the team as a whole. He adapted the Canucks to a more focused mindset than the wild and panicked mindset engraved in them by their ex-coach. This way they are able to make more precise passes and dekes in order to score.

Greene had been very strict and rigid. His strategy was to blitz the other team with two or three forwards carrying the puck down the ice full blast. He also encouraged the defensemen to push up and join the attack. However, this resulted in odd-man rushes and poor defense which cost the team many goals against. Never making a change to minimize goals-against, he assured the Canucks that his overly aggressive play style would work and changed nothing. They finished the season with 36 wins, 27 losses, and six ties, in fourth place in the pacific division. 

“We’re not a run-and-gun team and if we try to play that game every night we’re going to be in trouble,” said Green after a 5-2 loss to the Buffalo Sabres.

This was quickly proven false by Boudreau. 

Boudreau started his coaching career in the NHL in 2007 with the Washington Capitals. He coached five seasons with the Capitals, then five with the Anaheim Ducks, and four with the Minnesota Wild. Of the 14 seasons he coached, 10 of them ended with an entry to the playoffs. 

“Bruce has a lot of positive energy,” Vancouver Canuck Captain Bo Horvat said in a pre-game interview on December 6th, ”and he wants to get the best out of his players.”

Since his signing, Bruce Boudreau has changed a lot in the Vancouver Canuck playstyle. The Canucks have now adapted to Boudreau’s signature “run and gun” playstyle, in which they quickly counterattack against an opposing team by using quick passes up the ice to the next player. This strategy utilizes the Canucks offensive power as well as the speed of the young team. 

With eight games to go, the Vancouver Canucks are in fifth place in the Western Conference with 82 points, eight points off of second place. 

As of now, they have little to no chance to make the playoffs, but the overall change in the team seems to be great. What was once the coach’s desire for the team has now become instinct for the players. The team is able to make quick and precise stick to stick passes while blasting down the ice. 

For instance, in the Canucks’ game against the Avalanche on March 23rd, a beautiful play was set up by Elias Pettersson. With 18 minutes to go in the third period, the Avalanche tried to clear their zone where they were quickly stopped and broken up by Pettersson. Petterson then found Brock Boeser in the slot, who he fed a perfect one-timer resulting in a goal. 

Maybe the Boudreau Effect could carry them to a Stanley Cup, or at least a playoff spot in the years that come.

After a long and challenging practice, Bruce Boudreau talked to the media about the hard work displayed by the team as well as their playoff push. “You have to rebuild yourself for the next one,” Boudreau said. ”A day like today is a good day for rest. We’ll just keep pushing until there is no more room to push.”

Cover Image Credit: Wikipedia Commons

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