MONTREAL – Guy Boucher didn’t need to circle the date on his calendar for the Tampa Bay Lightning’s first game at the Bell Centre against the Montreal Canadiens.
The former coach of Montreal’s AHL farm club in Hamilton was reminded of it all summer by fans and friends after new Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman gave the Montreal native his first NHL job.
He’ll be behind the Ligtning bench for the Canadiens’ home opener on Wednesday night.
”I’m happy it’s at the start of the year, ” Boucher said Sunday on a conference call. ”I’m going into an environment that I like, where I was born and raised, but I still have to take away that emotion because you need a calm coach.”
The youngest coach in the NHL at 39 insisted that ”it is not Guy Boucher who is coming to Montreal, but it’s players like Vincent Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis and Simon Gagne that the fans want to see.
”I feel lucky to have them on the team and the attention should be on them, not on me.”
Boucher has had time to put some distance between himself and the Canadiens organization, where he spent only one season after leading the Drummondville Voltigeurs to a Quebec Major Junior Hockey league title in 2009.
The Bolts also hired his Hamilton assistant coaches Alain Raymond and Daniel Marois and brought in his Bulldogs GM Julien BriseBois as assistant GM.
”I didn’t coach the Canadiens, I worked for the organization” he said. ”It’s a strange feeling.
”I know some of the players, but mostly I knew the management, (coach) Jacques Martin, (GM) Pierre Gauthier, (former GM) Bob Gainey, who gave me my start. I’ll always be grateful to them for that. But I don’t want emotion to interfere with the task at hand. The Canadiens played well in their first two games. We have to be ready.”
He already has his first NHL victory as the Lightning won their opener 5-3 over Atlanta.
”I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a relief,” he said. ”You want to get off to a good start when you’re in a new environment just to get the pressure off.”