ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Class is in session

ST. PAUL -- Bruce Boudreau's opening remarks said everything that needed to be said about the way the 61-year-old, who described himself as a hockey junkie, is approaching his first season as the Wild's coach.

Nov 16, 2015; Raleigh, NC, USA; Anaheim Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau looks on against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena. The Anaheim Ducks defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 4-1. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports
Anaheim Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau looks on against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena. The Anaheim Ducks defeated the Carolina Hurricanes 4-1. (James Guillory/USA TODAY Sports)

ST. PAUL - Bruce Boudreau's opening remarks said everything that needed to be said about the way the 61-year-old, who described himself as a hockey junkie, is approaching his first season as the Wild's coach.

"It's like the first day of school," he said Thursday on the Wild's official media day.

Clearly ecstatic - his inaugural training camp with the organization was less than 24 hours away - Boudreau's eyes seem to light up whenever he gets to talk about hockey or is near a rink.

"He's always smiling," defenseman Jared Spurgeon said. "Hopefully we can keep him that way going forward."

Make no mistake about it, though. As the fastest NHL coach ever to reach 400 wins, Boudreau knows when it's time to get serious. He will, at times, trade that smile for a scowl when the Wild open training camp Friday at Xcel Energy Center.

ADVERTISEMENT

That will be the first time many Wild players see Boudreau in action.

Chris Stewart, one of the few players on the roster who has been through a training camp with Boudreau, sent a warning of sorts to his teammates.

"It was probably one of the toughest training camps I've ever been through," said Stewart, who played for Boudreau last season with the Anaheim Ducks. "It was really intense. They really focus on pushing us to another level. You have to come to camp in shape.

"That's something he's going to bring here. That whistle-to-whistle toughness," the winger added. "That'll be good for us. And it's good we learn that early on. We are creatures of habits. So, come January, come February, it's going to be so instinctive that we aren't even going to think about those things."

Boudreau stressed that training camp will be a chance for players to prove themselves. It starts Friday with 60 players on the roster, which must be pared down to 23 before the season opener Oct. 13 at St. Louis. Gone is Mike Yeo, as well the former head coach's preconceived notions about his players.

"It's about what they show me now," Boudreau said. "So, guys that have bad years ... have a great opportunity this year because we're seeing them for the first time."

It's clear things will be new to players this season. Boudreau, for example, won't have scrimmaging in camp. Yeo, winger Jason Pominville recalled, usually started camps with them.

"It obviously won't be the same," he said. "In the end, though, everybody wants to have a good start and show the coaches what they're capable of right away."

ADVERTISEMENT

Boudreau also starts his camps with a skating test, something Yeo never used.

"We want to ramp it up as quick as we can," Boudreau explained. "We want to have a lot of pace in our practice. It's a real mixture, because we have to teach at the same time. It's not going to be like a practice in December. At the same time, we don't want anything slow. We want a lot of moving parts."

Spurgeon and fellow defenseman Matt Dumba said they can't remember the last time they'd been through a skating test to start a season, although they aren't opposed to it.

"I feel like anytime there's a skating test to start, we can kind of assume it's going to be a tough camp," Spurgeon said. "You have to go down and back a couple times or something like that, and certain (finish) times are good times, and certain times are bad times. I'm sure it'll show who was practicing it in the summer."

"Even the fitness test wasn't easy," Dumba added. "I can already tell it's going to be a good camp. And we'll be better because of it."

Boudreau said the preseason will also give players a chance to get used to him.

"I think they're still trying to figure me out," he said. " 'What's this guy like? He seems to be smiling a little too much.' Or, 'He's joking around with me. Is he really joking or is he sarcastic?' I think it takes a little bit of time for guys to get to know me."

While winger Charlie Coyle hasn't necessarily figured him out yet, but Boudreau seems to have made a good impression.

ADVERTISEMENT

"He seems like an honest guy," Coyle said. "We need a guy like that, that will tell it like it is and not sugarcoat things.

"When I met him, he really focused on getting to know me - how I am as a person, how I am as a player. That was a good start," Coyle added. "(It's) not the approach I've seen from other coaches in the past. He really wants to get to know guys so he knows how to coach them the right way. To get us motivated. Those little things, it feels right. I'm excited to be playing for a guy like him."

What To Read Next
DICKINSON — The Dickinson Midgets basketball teams fell to Western Dakota Association's powerhouse Century Patriots on Tuesday evening. Both the boys and girls varsity teams struggled to keep up with the Patriots' consistent scoring, falling 100-66 and 67-49 respectively.
Clancy Meyer becomes first female varsity wrestler from Dickinson to win on home mat in inaugural season
The Dawgs scored 51 points from beyond the arc in their away match against Grant County Mott-Regent.
Midgets secure 109-72 blowout win against Watford City at home in record-breaking game