Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher surely has a new name near the top of his coaching wish list.
Two days after the Anaheim Ducks were upset in the first round of the playoffs, veteran coach Bruce Boudreau was fired by Ducks GM Bob Murray despite the team having the best record in the NHL after Christmas.
Boudreau, who has a year left on his contract, leaves the Ducks with four consecutive Pacific Division titles and a 208-104-40 record since replacing Randy Carlyle as coach Nov. 30, 2011. Boudreau also coached the Washington Capitals to four division titles and this past season became the fastest coach in NHL history to 400 wins (663 games).
His undoing in Anaheim was four consecutive Game 7 losses after the Ducks held 3-2 series leads.
Murray said the way the past four years ended — “all very similar” — triggered the change.
“Nobody should think this is pointing the gun at Bruce’s head. Let’s make that perfectly clear,” Murray said. “But you’ve got to start somewhere. Regular-season success is OK. … I want playoff success.
“He’ll land on his feet. Bruce will be fine. He’s a good coach.”
Fletcher said Thursday at his season-ending news conference that he’s in no rush to name a coach, but Boudreau likely will be a very in-demand candidate.
Ottawa and Minnesota have the other head-coaching vacancies in the NHL; Boudreau was born in Toronto and has family throughout Ontario, including his mother, who still lives in St. Catharines.
The last time Boudreau was out of work, Anaheim hired him two days after Washington fired him.
Boudreau, 61, is the seventh head coach in NHL history to win 200-plus games with multiple teams.
He was Coach of the Year with Washington in 2008. In 681 regular-season games over nine seasons, Boudreau is 409-192-80. That .659 points percentage is tops in NHL history by any coach with more than 208 games. Scotty Bowman ranks second at .657, and in 1,460 games.
Boudreau’s downfall has been the postseason. He hasn’t won any Stanley Cups, has only coached past the second round once and is 41-39 in the playoffs and 1-7 in Game 7s.
Boudreau once played 30 games for the World Hockey Association’s Minnesota Fighting Saints, was one of the top-scoring American Hockey League players in history (12th with 799 points and 16th with 316 goals) and coached ECHL and AHL teams to two championships. He ranks ninth in AHL history with 340 wins.
On Thursday, Fletcher called interim coach John Torchetti a “very serious candidate” for the head job.
“As remarkable as it sounds, Torch and I have never spoken about next year or the future or his vision,” Fletcher said. “We’ll have a good chance to talk soon. … The great thing is I know John. I know his personality. I know his work ethic. You don’t have to spend a lot of time like you would do in a normal interview getting to know each other. It’s just about how his vision and my vision align. I look forward to that conversation.”
On Thursday, multiple sources said Fletcher would reach out to Carlyle for an interview. Fletcher and Carlyle worked together in Anaheim.
Carlyle, a former Norris Trophy winner, coached the Ducks to a Stanley Cup in 2007 and ranks 41st in NHL history with 364 wins in 704 games over 10 seasons with Anaheim and Toronto.
He was fired by the Maple Leafs 40 games into last season.
Fletcher is also expected to have interest in Anaheim assistant coach Paul MacLean, who’s suddenly in limbo. Fletcher and MacLean worked together during his first stint as an assistant coach in Anaheim, including 2003, when the Ducks lost in the Stanley Cup Final.
He won a Stanley Cup in 2008 with Detroit, one of his six years as an assistant coach there. MacLean interviewed for the Wild coaching job in 2011, but Fletcher hired Mike Yeo.
MacLean coached the Ottawa Senators for parts of four seasons until being fired 27 games into last season. He was the NHL Coach of the Year in 2013.