First Person Singular: Washington Capitals Coach Bruce Boudreau
I wanted originally to play until I was 50. I think it's just natural when you're Canadian, you know? I mean you grow up playing hockey, you find out you love it, and it's all you want to do. I was lucky enough to play 17 years pro. But when you get in your 30s, they only give you one-year contracts; the first time you have a bad year, you're done. You're going, Boy, what happens when this ends? It was the only thing I'd ever really known a lot about, and I wanted to stay in the game. So when I was offered a three-year deal to coach in one of the lower leagues, I jumped at it. I'd had a pretty good year the year before and still wanted to play, but I mean, I was 38 years old. And it was the first time I'd had some security for a long time. The rest is sort of the ups and downs of coaching: getting hired, getting fired, winning awards, getting fired again, having no job and looking for work -- a guy trying to make it but wanting the dream.
When I lost my job in San Francisco was the worst. [The San Francisco Spiders] filed for bankruptcy and stopped paying everybody, so I've got no income coming in. Me and my wife got an 18-foot U-Haul truck and packed it up, one way. When you're traveling cross-country doing maybe 50 miles an hour in a big U-Haul truck, not knowing where you're stopping to live, you have time to reflect. You're going: Wow, I'm starting over. I don't have a job, I don't have a college education. What am I going to do at 42 years old?
I'm an average guy that just persevered and finally got to where he wants to be. Once I got to [the] Hershey [Bears], everything sort of went fast. And then in November of 2008, I got this job. When I got here, I was living across the street from where we [practice], and I could walk through there in blazing red like I've got on now that says, Hey, I'm the Washington Capitals coach, and no one would know, no one would bat an eye. But now it's really hockey fever that's caught the D.C. area. Anywhere I go, people know about the Washington Capitals, and they recognize my face. It's a feel-good story, and there's been a lot of negativism in the sports world surrounding the Washington area. But I'm superstitious as hell. If I start cheering, something bad's gonna happen. I've got to be the calm one when things are going good. That's my role.
Interview by KK Ottesen