The collection has been curated for more than 40 years, with artifacts ranging from vintage newspaper clippings to shiny gold-plated statues, but it took only three days to arrange it on the walls and shelves inside Wild coach Bruce Boudreau’s Woodbury home.
Just inside the front door with the sunflower wreath is an office that holds some of the most prominent pieces.
Framed Maple Leafs and Blackhawks jerseys, commemorating Boudreau’s stints as a player with each franchise, hang side-by-side, and the Jack Adams Award and Presidents’ Trophy rest inside a glass case by the French doors.
An upstairs bedroom has more to offer, with another jersey — this one from the 2017 NHL All-Star Game that Boudreau coached — mounted on the wall and photos of a Calder Cup celebration on stage at a Tim McGraw concert on display.
But the mother lode is in the basement.
That’s where there’s a smorgasbord of sweaters, books, headlines, snapshots and even a Wild-themed scoreboard that catches Boudreau’s eye through the window when he turns into the driveway after a game.
“I’m really lucky,” Boudreau said. “No matter what happens, as mad as you get when you don’t win — and it stays with you — I’ve been really blessed.”
As his house attests, Boudreau has been reimbursed in accolades for devoting his life to hockey.
And yet the collage of his career is still incomplete.
It’s missing a Stanley Cup, the pursuit of which will begin again Thursday when Boudreau starts his third season behind the Wild’s bench with familiar players, a new general manager and the same expectations.
“The Stanley Cup is the cherry on top,” he said.
Plenty of optimism
Underneath a window in the office is a picture of Boudreau on the bench standing behind Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom.
He felt he should have won a championship with those Capitals in 2010, the year they led the league with an unprecedented 121 points. But Washington was eliminated in the first round by Montreal, its third straight Game 7 demise — a trend that followed Boudreau to Anaheim, where he coached before joining the Wild.
“We were all too young,” he said of that Capitals team. “We had to learn.”
It took until the 2017-18 season for Washington to finally exorcise its playoff demons, but the resolution is still inspiration for Boudreau in Minnesota where he, once again, is guiding a group seeking a breakthrough after being nixed in the first round four of the past six years.
“I’ve told everybody this summer that I firmly believe this is the best [Wild] team that I’ve come into,” he said.
It’s a similar roster to the ones Boudreau has worked with before, with the Wild acquiring solely depth support in the offseason, but the differences have stoked his optimism.
The group is healthier, its defense looks sturdier with better balance, and there’s intriguing potential up front — especially surrounding the third line of Joel Eriksson Ek, Jordan Greenway and Charlie Coyle.
“My confidence is there,” he said.
Attached to the wall in that front room of the house is Boudreau’s favorite article, entitled, “Wait for the next Zamboni, Bruce.”
It’s a story about Boudreau thriving in the American Hockey League but not getting rewarded with a call-up to the Leafs.
Boudreau appeared in just 141 NHL games after getting drafted 42nd overall by the Leafs, but he’s still one of the most dynamic scorers in AHL history, with 799 points in 634 games — a legacy that helped him get inducted into the AHL Hall of Fame in 2009.
And despite being a mainstay in pro hockey since the 1970s, the 63-year-old has never felt secure in his role — even after he led the Capitals’ AHL affiliate to a Calder Cup; helped the Fort Wayne Komets to the International Hockey League title as an assistant; and coached the Mississippi Sea Wolves to a championship in the ECHL. Boudreau is also the fastest coach in NHL history to record 200 and 400 wins, and he reached 500 last season only 12 games shy of Scotty Bowman’s record pace.
“I feel confident in my job,” he said. “I feel confident in my abilities. But will I ever take anything for granted? No. I don’t take anything for granted.”
When former GM Chuck Fletcher was dismissed in April, owner Craig Leipold didn’t envision a change at coach but did point out how a new hire may have his own opinion.
Although the front office was restructured in the aftermath of Paul Fenton’s arrival in May, Boudreau remained on board. He has two seasons left on a four-year contract.
“I’m still trying to really build a relationship, see what the team is like, how he handles lineups, how he handles situations,” Fenton said. “Certainly [he] has lots of experience doing it. His demeanor on the ice and carrying a practice is very good. I’ve been very much impressed with the way that we come to work every day.
“Everything’s under evaluation every day.”
A glass plaque embossed with the phrase, “The things that are most rewarding are the things that people say you can’t do,” sits in that trophy case in Boudreau’s office.
Across the room, a spread from The Hockey News describes his first NHL coaching gig in Washington as “The road to redemption.”
These words from Boudreau’s past could describe the Wild’s future.
Despite eclipsing 100 points in 2017-18 and finishing eighth in the NHL, Boudreau is aware of the projections that forecast a down season for his charges — all while internal standards are still set to win-now mode.
The Central Division remains arguably the toughest climb in either conference, with the Jets emerging as a potential Cup challenger and the Predators still steady. Then there’s the Avalanche, Blues, Stars and Blackhawks, who all look capable of competitive campaigns.
It makes Boudreau angry when he hears reasons why the Wild might not be able to keep pace, but it doesn’t change his outlook.
“If you don’t have the dream,” he said, “you can never achieve the goal.”
Ready to celebrate
In between the main-floor showroom and the basement gallery is a wall of photos of Boudreau’s children and their escapades in hockey.
His sons are all involved in the sport; Brady is a goaltender for the Minnesota Blue Ox — the junior team Boudreau and his wife, Crystal, co-own. Andy works at the Banff Hockey Academy in Canada, and Ben is an assistant coach with Fort Wayne in the ECHL.
Daughter Kasey also worked for the Ottawa Senators before opening her own business.
The family talks regularly about what it would do if it ever won the Stanley Cup.
It would be at Boudreau’s summer hockey school in St. Catharines, Ontario, so kids could hoist it after the Saturday morning game. And then it would make the rounds, to a party and then the hospital.
“Try to do it all,” Boudreau said.
That this celebration hasn’t happened yet is motivation for Boudreau.
His journey to this point may already be memorable, the significance of which won’t diminish if it slams into a dead end before a title is captured.
But there’s room for more.
There always is.
And Boudreau would have no problem finding a spot for it.
“I’d buy a new house if I had to.”