Boucher was first choice to fill Ottawa vacancy

The Detroit News

OTTAWA, Ontario — Pierre Dorion said he knew he had found the next Ottawa Senators head coach after his first meeting with Guy Boucher.

“I want to make it clear to everyone that this was my candidate,” Dorion said Monday at a news conference to introduce Boucher. “No doubt in my mind, from the first time that I met him I felt this would be the guy to lead the Ottawa Senators.”The new Senators GM said Boucher was the first candidate he interviewed for the position and was his front-runner from the start, countering reports that the Senators were snubbed by new Minnesota coach Bruce Boudreau.

Ottawa Senators new head coach Guy Boucher speaks during an NHL hockey news conference in Ottawa Monday.

Boucher becomes the Senators’ 12th head coach, replacing Dave Cameron who was fired April 12.

The Senators also announced that Marc Crawford would join Boucher’s coaching staff as an associate coach.

Boucher’s coaching resume includes just over two seasons as head coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning, posting a 97-78-20 record in 195 games. Boucher led the Lightning to the Eastern Conference final in 2010-11.

Most recently the 44-year-old spent parts of the past three seasons as head coach of SC Bern of the National League A in Switzerland, posting a 44-29-5 record.

“Guy brings passion, drive, great communication skills, knowledge of the game, intelligence, he’s progressive, he’s innovative,” Dorion said. “What impressed me the most was his ability to translate in the interview process, and I think this ability to translate to the players, how we need to play to have success.”

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Boucher, a native of Notre-Dame-Du-Lac, Quebec, is excited for the opportunity to not only return to the NHL, but to Canada and to be close to family.

He said he watched a number of Senators’ games in the second half of the season and sees a lot of reason for optimism.

“I think we can accelerate the process because I think there’s already great things and strong things in place in the team, so I won’t pretend to come in and be the savior and I’ll do everything different,” he said.

“I have to respect the fact that a lot of good things have been done here, great players that have been brought up and players that have had success in the last years so we just want to keep those guys having success and help the ones that are ready to grow.

“I think it’s a very encouraging year because when you look at the ages, when you look at the leadership I think this team is right there ready to take another step.”

Asked if he thought the Senators were a playoff team, Boucher said “Has to be or else I wouldn’t be here.”

“If I didn’t think it was a playoff team it would go against everything I believe in,” he added. “We’re in the business of doing the impossible.”

Boucher will have the benefit of postseason experience in Crawford, who won the Jack Adams Award as the NHL’s coach of the year in 1995 with Colorado and led the Avalanche to a Stanley Cup title in 1996.

Crawford has a record of 549-421-100-77 over 15 NHL seasons, and like Boucher also recently coached in Switzerland.

Boucher is expected to add at least three more members to his coaching staff in the coming weeks.

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One of Boucher’s biggest challenges will be his relationship with captain Erik Karlsson. Karlsson is one of the league’s most impressive offensive defensemen, but his defensive commitment has often been questioned.

“We have here an unbelievable offensive defenseman, he’s the best in the league, and I think you have to cherish that and you’ve got to respect that and you’ve got to drive your team with his strengths,” Boucher said.

“I think that we don’t want to change that. Does he have to evolve in certain areas of the game? Absolutely, but that’s every player.”

Boucher seems excited at the prospect of working with forward Mike Hoffman, whom he coached in Drummondville as a junior of the QMJHL. Hoffman is set to become a restricted free agent July 1.

“He’s one of the players on this team that I think is a game-breaker. When you have an asset like that you cherish it.”

Boucher was new to the NHL when hired by Tampa Bay in 2010. He said he is better prepared this time.

“Coming in a second time the perspective is different, the planning will be different, managing players though that won’t be any different. I think that’s something that’s been one of my strengths.

“We’re going to start in camp very fast. I hate to waste time. I think this team is ready now to play well, right away.”