The Minnesota Wild made some big changes in the front office recently, but won’t be doing the same behind the bench. GM Paul Fenton spoke with reporters today and made it very clear that Bruce Boudreau will be back next season despite missing the playoffs this year. Fenton also explained that he will try to “fix this on the fly” instead of trying a full rebuild, and noted that players like Matt Dumba, Mikko Koivu and Zach Parise will be ready for training camp.
Boudreau, 64, has been with the Wild for three seasons and failed to get them past the first round of the playoffs in each of the first two. Missing completely led some to believe that he may be on his way out, given he wasn’t even hired by Fenton, but there are few with his history of success available. The former Washington and Anaheim bench boss trails only Scott Bowman and Jon Cooper in winning percentage among coaches with at least 500 games, and has still never had a season under .500 in his career. His resume also includes championships at both the ECHL and AHL level, and this season marks just the second time his NHL club has missed the playoffs. He won the Jack Adams award as Coach of the Year in 2008.
Even with all of that, the seat is certainly still hot in Minnesota. The team won’t be tearing down the walls to rebuild a roster that hasn’t been able to eclipse mediocrity, and if they don’t find success soon there will have to be changes. Fenton did already alter the look of the core group of players by trading away Nino Niederreiter, Charlie Coyle and Mikael Granlund, and will likely have some more moves coming this summer. Boudreau’s task will now be putting all those new pieces together and getting back in the race in the Western Conference, and will do it on the last year of his current contract.
Perhaps some luck will come Boudreau’s way this evening when the draft lottery results are announced, and he’ll have a new star to set into his line up. Even if it doesn’t, he’ll have to find a way to get more production out of young forwards like Luke Kunin, Joel Eriksson Ek and Jordan Greenway.