And maybe a great one.
Guy Boucher has succeeded at every level of his coaching career, in the Q and, most recently, with the Bulldogs.
He has three university degrees, has studied psychology and is a master motivator and tactician who – in the phrase frequently used to describe him – “thinks outside the box.”
After Boucher turned down the Columbus offer, some hoped for the Bob McKenzie scenario: Bouchewr becomes an assistant or “associate” coach with the Canadiens, learning the ropes at the NHL level for a year before succeeding Jacques Martin, who would be moved upstairs.
Perhaps the Canadiens made that pitch.
But Steve Yzerman made a better one.
Boucher is going to a good situation in Tampa Bay. The Lighning have established stars in Vincent Lecavalier (who’ll be number one on the new coach’s psychological rehab list), Martin St. Louis and Ryan Malone.
Steven Stamkos had a breakout season in 2009-’10. Victor Hedman is considered a can’t miss star on the back end.
Yzerman learned his management chops from Detroit GM Ken Holland, who’s as close to a latter-day Sam Pollock as there is in the league. Stevie Y has the full support of Jeff Vinik, TB’s new owner (succeeding the two clowns); and Boucher will have the full support of Yzerman.
Added bonus: Boucher’s wife and young children move to a city that’s probably more liveable than Hamilton.
If Boucher leads the Lightning up the Eastern Conference standings, Canadiens fans will wonder what might have been.
What’s the point?
Guy Boucher, who doesn’t make rash decisions, thought it over and decided he was ready to become a head coach.
The Canadiens have a coach.
Jacques Martin has three years left on a rich contract that includes a hefty penalty clause if he’s sacked.
Martin just coached the Canadiens to the Eastern Conference finals.
So what could Pierre Gauthier do?
Fire Martin because Boucher is in a hurry?
That wasn’t going to happen.
So in the NHL’s shallow pool of French-speaking coaches, a potential superstar swims south.