When Bruce Boudreau was fired by the Capitals on Monday morning, he decided to temporarily decline most interview requests because the former coach didn’t want his comments to overshadow Dale Hunter’s debut on Tuesday night.
Wednesday morning, though, Boudreau opened up about the most difficult day of his professional career and the events that led up to it.
“When nothing happened Sunday, I thought, ‘Okay, we’re playing St. Louis and Pittsburgh and maybe that’s going to be the telltale,’’ Boudreau said in the living room of his Potomac home. “But I was driving to work at 6:10 on Monday and I got a text. It was George. He said, call me when you wake up. I said, ‘Uh oh, that’s not good.’ He told me to come to his house.”
Here are some highlights from our 20-minute talk:
*On his reaction to the firing: “I told George this on Monday: I tried every trick that I knew in 18 years and nothing was working.” Boudreau said. “I told him, ‘You’re doing what you have to do.’ I thought I was going to be here forever, but this was something I thought that had to be done. Am I disappointed? Absolutely.”
*On the moment he knew his message had been tuned out and that his time was coming to an end: “There was the game in Winnipeg,” he said. “With this team, I always would say something profound in between periods. We may not win, but we would give it the old college try. But we had five shots on net in the third period and we were down 4-1.”
“Then,” Boudreau added, “in the Buffalo game, we didn’t have a scoring chance in the third period.”
*On team captain Alex Ovechkin’s struggles and how much a role that played in his dismissal: “He called me Monday and I didn’t feel like talking,” Boudreau said. “I answered the phone [Tuesday] and he was really gracious. He said he really enjoyed working with me and I said, ‘I loved every minute of it.”
Asked why it appeared over the past season that he was trying to get Ovechkin to play one way, and the team captain didn’t change his ways, Boudreau said: “He might have been doing his own thing, but the good was outweighing the bad by a long shot. Now there’s more scrutiny now because he’s not scoring at the rate he was and people are more willing to criticize. …We play different than we did three years ago.
“I don’t think it was him rebelling against me,” he said, choosing his words carefully. “I’ll never want to believe that.”
*On whether the team quit on him in the final days: “I’m so naive, I never thought that could happen until people started bringing it up to me in the last day or two,” he said. “I have to go back and look at the games because I can’t imagine that. When I played, I would always play for the guy next to me, not the coach.”
Boudreau also said he hasn’t decided what he’s going to do just yet.
He’s weighing some offers to do television. But, ultimately, he wants to get back behind an NHL bench. (He has the remainder of this season and next remaining on his contract and will continue to be paid unless he accepts another NHL job.)
I’ll have more later, but I’ve got to get to KCI for practice.
More on Boudreau firing/Hunter hiring:
Poll: Was it the right move?
D.C. Sports Bog: Top 10 Boudreau moments
Box Seats: Caps say “Goodnight Bruce”
Photos: Boudreau fired