There is a popular acronym used in social media circles that is not fit for a mainstream newspaper.
The acronym, often attached to Jay Cutler’s aloof frat-boy face, could be paraphrased as “Don’t Give a Darn.”
That phrase should be the caption of every photograph of Bruce Boudreau.
Pardon the grammar, but Bruce don’t give a darn. He proved it again with moves that led to the Wild’s 4-3 victory over Arizona on Thursday night at Xcel Energy Center.
The primary flaw of Boudreau’s predecessor, Mike Yeo, was that Yeo cared about making his bosses look good and about relationships with his key players. At least two of them, Ryan Suter and Zach Parise, held more influence and job security in the organization than Yeo did.
Last season, with the team in a tailspin that would cost him his job, Yeo finally took action.
He scratched the lackadaisical Thomas Vanek and the slumping Jason Zucker. The next game, he moved the slumping Jason Pominville to the fourth line for the first time. And then Yeo got fired.
We’ll never know whether Yeo could have saved his job by making such dramatic moves earlier. All we know is that Boudreau’s trigger finger would make him the star of a remake of “Tombstone.”
After victories at Dallas and Chicago last weekend, the Wild returned home with a record of 17-1-1 over its 19 previous games.
Then the Wild played a terrible third period on Tuesday night and lost 4-3 to a bad New Jersey team.
Boudreau could have stuck with a lineup that had won big for him. He could have babied Pominville or franchise star Parise. Instead, Boudreau pulled the trigger.
Instead of using Eric Staal to babysit players who were slumping, Boudreau went back to the line that dominated in December — Staal centering Nino Niederreiter and Charlie Coyle.
In the first period, Coyle flicked a pass toward center ice. Niederreiter nudged it toward Staal. Staal scored with a wrist shot. The Wild led 1-0.
After Arizona tied the score, Niederreiter scored on the power play.
Boudreau banished Pominville to the fourth line and Parise to the third line, where he played with Jordan Schroeder and Erik Haula.
Boudreau doesn’t care if his owner will see the franchise player on the third line, or if his general manager will see an expensive player on the fourth line, or if the expensive player might not be enamored with his decisions.
“We practiced with those lines a little bit yesterday,” Boudreau said. “I talked to a couple of the players about it. Just trying to get things where the chemistry can work.”
He said he talked to Parise. Pominville said Boudreau did not speak with him about the change.
“Nothing was really said, and I don’t really need anything to be said,” Pominville said. “Just go out there and play and not worry about what line you’re on.”
Because Boudreau doesn’t outwardly worry about job security or players’ feelings, he also is willing to make gut decisions in the midst of games.
Late in the first period, the Wild’s second line drew a penalty. Instead of putting the first power play unit on the ice with fresh legs, he decided to start the power play with the second unit.
That led to the first Niederreiter goal, as Staal and Parise watched from the bench.
Niederreiter would also score the game-winner in the third on a beautiful feed from Mikael Granlund.
Instead of hoping for miracle recoveries, Boudreau is choosing the lineups that give him the best chance to win today.
That sounds simple, but in pro sports it is not. How often do top prospects or high draft picks or big-money players get the benefit of the doubt?
It takes a veteran coach comfortable in his own skin to make tough decisions on expensive players, and with his team atop the West, Boudreau is looking quite comfortable.