ANAHEIM, Calif. - Bruce Boudreau has transformed the Anaheim Ducks from underachievers into contenders, and the club is confident the coach can finally chase down his first Stanley Cup championship.
Boudreau agreed to a two-year contract extension through the 2016-17 season with the Ducks on Wednesday.
Boudreau is 111-55-22 in nearly three seasons with the Ducks, winning the past two Pacific Division titles. Anaheim has won just one playoff series in two post-season trips under Boudreau, but seems poised to be a Stanley Cup contender for the foreseeable future.
"It certainly means a lot that the Ducks organization has faith in me leading this team," Boudreau said. "That's important going forward. As for family, I love the California area, so it was really nice to be able to get this done rather than have to worry all year. It's good on many levels."
After a lengthy playing and coaching career spent largely in the North American minor leagues, Boudreau has been a remarkable regular-season success behind the NHL benches in Washington and Anaheim. Since he landed his first head coaching job with the Capitals in 2007 at the age of 52, Boudreau has won six division titles and compiled the NHL's top winning percentage among active coaches at .663 (312-143-62).
"Bruce has done a very good job over the last several years, and deserves the opportunity to take this team deep into the playoffs," Ducks general manager Bob Murray said.
The Ducks finished last season with the Western Conference's best record at 54-20-8, finishing one point behind Boston for the NHL's best record. Anaheim lost a seven-game series in the second round of the playoffs to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings, dropping Game 7 at home.
Anaheim is loaded again this fall, with goal-scoring star Corey Perry and centres Ryan Getzlaf and Ryan Kesler headlining a deep roster. The Ducks got bigger and tougher in the off-season, adding defenceman Clayton Stoner and forward Nate Thompson along with Kesler, the U.S. Olympian acquired in a major trade with Vancouver.
"People are expecting more from us, and we expect more from ourselves," Boudreau said.
Boudreau also led the Capitals to four Southeast Division titles and one Presidents' Trophy during parts of five seasons in Washington, winning the Jack Adams Award as the NHL's coach of the year in 2008. He was hired by the slumping Ducks two days after the Capitals fired him in late November 2011, and he nearly pushed Anaheim to the playoffs in his first season.
Although Boudreau is popular among many Ducks fans for his effervescent, talkative style, he also isn't scared to go against popular opinion. He irked many fans last spring by giving inconsistent playing time to Teemu Selanne, the beloved goal-scoring star in his final NHL season. Boudreau even scratched a healthy Selanne for a playoff game.
But Boudreau's curious goaltending decisions were more influential on the Ducks' loss: The coach bypassed veteran goalie Jonas Hiller in favour of rookie Frederik Andersen and 20-year-old prospect John Gibson down the stretch and into the post-season. Andersen got hurt and Gibson appeared unprepared for the spotlight while losing the last two games to the Kings, getting chased from Game 7.
"I think we were close last year," Boudreau said. "I think the experience from our young guys having that one year is going to make us better. Plus, the additions like Kesler and Nate Thompson, to name the two main ones up front, are really big. In the past, all the prognosticators said we'd be fighting for the playoffs. We're still going to have to fight, because the West is very tough."