Patrick Roy took a run at him this week for his coaching style with Drummondville of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.
Two weeks ago, during the CBC telecast of the Hamilton Bulldogs/Oklahoma City-AHL game, Canadiens prospect David Desharnais was asked to compare the coaching styles of Boucher and current Bulldogs head coach Randy Cunneyworth. Desharnais quite bluntly stated that Boucher coached his Bulldogs players with the goal of landing an NHL job for himself. Cunneyworth, according to Desharnais, coaches with the goal of developing players as NHL assets.
Left winger Max Pacioretty appeared to echo that statement in an interview he gave The Team 990’s Tony Marinaro today.
“It’s no secret that Guy Boucher is one of the best coaches ever but sometimes that’s not the best thing for development. The thing I love about these coaches (Cunneyworth and Randy Ladouceur) is they give you the opportunity to do whatever you want out there. You know, if you make a mistake, you’re not going to pay for it. They kind of give you the freedom to play. I feel that’s where the development coms in.”
As for Patrick Roy. He came down on Boucher for his influence on the QMJHL. Roy told the Journal de Montreal this week that the restrictive defenses Boucher put in with Drummondville have been copycated around the league to the detriment of the entertainment value of the game.
“Boucher did nothing to help our league advance. His defensive system was copied by many other teams. I know my comments will not please Guy, but for me hockey should be focused on offense, not defense.”
Boucher was asked by Damian Cristodero of the St. Petersburg Florida Times to comment on Roy’s criticism.
“The funny thing is my teams were always the No. 1 offensive teams. We were first in the league in junior in offense, the same last year in the American League (at Hamilton). This year we are the top team in the NHL. We spend 80 percent of our time working on offense. If you watch our practices you’ll see, so that’s all I’m focusing on.”
I don’t know whether Roy’s criticism of Boucher’s work carries much water since most of the junior hockey team goals (including Roy’s Quebec Remparts) are commercial ones; that is, win games and sell more tickets.
His role in the American Hockey League was different. In Hamilton, the Canadiens expected Boucher to develop players to the point where they could seamlessly step up to the Canadiens when called upon. The operative word is “seamlessly”. Desharnais and Pacioretty had it right. Boucher coached the Bulldogs his way. His much talked of 1-3-1 checking system was contrary to the way the Canadiens approach the game. No continuity meant an adjustment period for most players promoted from the farm club.
We’ll never know this but, if Boucher hadn’t received those NHL coaching offers from Tampa Bay and Columbus during the summer, I wonder whether Canadiens general manager Pierre Gauthier would have returned him to the Hamilton coaching job.