Monday, June 7, 2010

Because it's mandatory I step in here

I have somewhat ridiculously long-term commitments to my favourites. One of my most long-standing is that with strawberries, eventually evolving into the combination of strawberries and chocolate. Try all they might, Chez Cora persists in the idea of getting me to order something else, but I'm a little--more like a LOT--difficult to shake.

Mark Recchi's been stuck with me since my hockey fandom started in 1998, despite sporting few jerseys since then that I would ever be seen dead wearing myself. Tomas Plekanec shares the same burden since his first (or second, if we're counting his draft day) public appearance in North America (Jamboree 2001).

He didn't even have a goatee then, to give you an idea. (Still the turtleneck though, so don't worry.)

Guy Boucher's a bit of a "new" one by my standards, running at four years now. I'll be the first one to admit that the ones that stick like the ones I've mentioned come with a little overprotectiveness and this is no less true even for the newbies. So here I go.

(credit, once again, to l'Express)

Every decision comes with two halves. No, it's not every day that a coach that's only been in the pro ranks for one year gets so much buzz and excitement, translating to offers from bona fide NHL teams. It's also not every day that said coach would decline the opportunity to move up.

But in all this rarity there's a little familiarity, from "weighing all the options" to "one step at a time." Individuals, and special ones such as Boucher, especially with his attention to detail and considerations of the whole picture, don't jump at just anything, no matter how good it looks. Remember, this is only June and the Bulldogs were just eliminated from the playoffs. Wrapping up that season is as new as most of the attention those accomplishments have brought him so far. The setting is very much the same as what it was last year, when the bubbly from the President's Cup hadn't even had time to go flat and in waltzed Julien BriseBois and the rest of the Hamilton crew.

I know what you're thinking: "That time he said yes. Did something go wrong?" Not necessarily. His demeanour approaching last year's offer and the one now have been the exact same--which is what the people who look at this latest turn of events with a puzzled eye may not necessarily understand. Personally, I was fully prepared to have to make another adjustment in him moving up again. But as much as his final word shocked many, I was thinking, "classic Boucher." If anyone knows how and why to say no, it's him.

As we will see July 1st, unrestricted free agents seldom say yes to the very first offer. Especially first-timers. Coachwise, it's hardly different. Boucher is very much a rookie himself--he would probably be the first to tell you--but he is certainly not unaware of the clamor and commotion surrounding him. All the vacancies, all the big city names popping up, all the upset fans in Montreal having barely made acquaintance to his name picking up a newspaper, seeing the quotes, hearing those of others and realizing how important it is to hang onto such a commodity. That's all well and good, and surely the Habs' and other organizations are not blind to this fact and not sitting quietly about it, but the final word is his and only his. Power like that isn't something to take lightly, and he is fully managing that situation. Columbus won't be the last, as we can already tell, heck, he might even just stay where he is. We've got a good while longer with this rollercoaster left to go.

Like you and I, Boucher is a family guy. In considering Hamilton, he also needed "a weekend." He said then, as he surely said recently, that if he saw anything that would hinder his family to adjust, he would stay put or look elsewhere. (Not that Columbus isn't kid and wife friendly, but moving to the States itself--I'd imagine--has to be somewhat of a significant deal after just having moved to Ontario the year before. Whether that's the case or not, that is a pretty focal part of his decision-making.) The more ambitious guys would find a way to make it work. But to Boucher, whose attitude is probably the most ambitious of all without even directly being so, finding the best surrounding conditions to undertake such a significant career move is as important a factor as the job conditions themselves.

Then there is timing. Boucher famously keeps his eye on the present, and firmly believes in each of his projects until he feels it's time for his involvement to end. Until he signs the dotted line, he stands by what he has going with the organization that retains him. Drummondville hadn't had a league championship to its name in its 27 years, but when the job with the Bulldogs wasn't set in stone yet, the mindset to get his players to repeat the 2008-09 performance was definitely one he had on his plate. So there is that speculation to consider as well. Perhaps he felt like his work with the Bulldogs wasn't done yet. Perhaps his plans extended farther than the third round of the Calder Cup. Perhaps he wanted to take those 30+ records and add to them. Perhaps he quite simply wasn't ready to move on just yet.

Perhaps, like me, he abides by some pretty strong commitment principles.

You and I can dispute all the perhapses until we turn purple in the face. But there certainly isn't and end to this story, nor will there be until all the spots in the NHL and AHL are accounted for. And even afterwards. So buckle up.


  1. So initially I was like, "no, stay with my Bulldogs, damn it!" And then as they kept fluffing it up and time went on, I was sort of like, "okay, you can coach my NHL team!" And then as soon as I was 100% like, "hey, I can dig this!" he says no. Sigh. :P

  2. SAME. I'd finally come to terms and done pretend-inner-yoga and all that and then he's like "or not." sooooo I'm sitting here like "o...."


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