A year after many in the hockey world thought it would happen, Bruce Boudreau and Bob Woods have been reunited.
Woods, Boudreau longtime confidante and friend, will be announced as Scott Stevens’ replacement as a Wild assistant coach this morning. He’ll join John Anderson, another of Boudreau’s best friends, on the bench. Darby Hendrickson remains in his role as assistant coach, too.
Woods, 49, a former defenseman, was Boudreau’s player assistant with the 1998-99 championship Mississippi Sea Wolves team in the ECHL. After Boudreau left for AHL Lowell then Manchester, Woods stayed in Biloxi to coach and be GM before joining Boudreau in Hershey as an assistant.
They won the Calder Cup together their first year in 2005-06, then lost in the finals the next year. Boudreau got “called up” to be the Washington Capitals’ coach in 2007-08 and Woods took over the Bears before winning a title in 2008-09. Woods joined Boudreau in Washington the next 2 ½ years before coming to Anaheim with him for two seasons.
Last season, Woods, after a stint as coach and GM with the Saskatoon Blades in the Western Hockey League, was an assistant coach for the Buffalo Sabres and largely credited for coaching the league’s top-ranked power play.
In his career, Woods has helped develop young defensemen like Cam Fowler, Karl Alzner, John Carlson and Mike Green. He's looking forward to working with the Wild blue line.
“They’re all mobile, they can move the puck, and this day and age, that’s a big key,” Woods said. “There’s a lot of experience there. I think they have the opportunity to do something special, and anything I can do to help, I’m there for them and I can’t wait to get to meet them and start building that relationship.”
Added Boudreau, "He’ll push me and I’ll push him. He knows how to coach and mold young kids, and he knows the game well enough and he’s old enough that I think he’ll be a great communicator with the Suts’ (Ryan Suter) and the older guys that we have on our team.”
Woods will coach the defensemen and penalty kill. He’ll call the blue-line line changes from the bench. Anderson will continue to work with the power play, but as always, Boudreau said it’s a collaborative effort amongst the coaching staff.
“I thought long and hard about it and I think we’ll work really good as a group,” Boudreau said. "He’s very supportive of me and we’ve won everywhere. And he knows me. He knows when I’m going off the edges and stuff like that, he knows when to pull me in. It’s like an old girlfriend that you’ve been around for a long time. They know you after awhile. And he does. He knows me and he gets me.”
Said Woods, “I think we both know each other very well, and I think we complement each other. I think part of my job is filling in the cracks. Bruce doesn’t have many of them. But I try to seal anything that I can. I love working with him, I love his passion for the game. I love his relationships with the players. This is a guy that has success for a reason. The one thing is I know Bruce will do everything in his power to try to bring that cup to Minnesota, and I’m going to be there right beside him.
Boudreau also wanted it known that a report in Canada that Mike Kitchen turned down the Wild’s job is untrue. Boudreau and the longtime coach are friends and Boudreau talked to Kitchen about the job, but Kitchen said he doesn’t want to coach this season and the job was never offered to him.
The second through seventh rounds have begun. Follow me on Twitter at @russostrib for updates.