FanPost

Does Boudreau have enough experience to win a Cup?

In all the discussions/explanations as to why the Caps have failed in the playoffs over the past three seasons, experience (or lack thereof) always seems to be in the forefront. Whether it’s that the forwards are too young and lack the knowledge on how to step-up their games for the playoffs or that the defense is missing the true veteran presence that almost all Stanley Cup winners possess, inexperience is universally cited as a major culprit in the Caps’ post-season woes. But if lack of experience can apply to the players, does it hold true for the coaching, specifically the head coach, Bruce Boudreau?

I know in some ways, it sounds foolish to call a 55–year old hockey lifer with over 20 years in the coaching ranks inexperienced. Yet the reality is that while the ECHL and the AHL are great places to hone your craft, the NHL is a giant leap above when it comes to playing and coaching. Now, before I begin this exercise I want to make it clear I’m not looking for excuses for Boudreau or the Caps. However, I did wonder where Bruce stood experience-wise when compared to other Cup-winning coaches. So I went back over the last 40 years and compiled a list of how many NHL games every winning coach had under their belt before they won their first Cup. As I surmised, Bruce is a relative newcomer when you examine the list as a whole. The table below provides the individual detail, but, in summary, here are the major points:

-Over the last 40 seasons, 26 different coaches have won the Stanley Cup. The average number of regular season games coached by those 26 men before they won their first Cup was 344. Boudreau has coached 225 to date in his NHL career.

-Out of those 26, 8 coaches have won a Cup in less than Boudreau’s 225. The runaway leader is Dan Bylsma who had just 25 regular season NHL games to his name before Pittsburgh captured the Cup.

-The list of guys who took longer than 225 games to win their first Cup reads like a who’s who of NHL coaches. To name a few, Glen Sather-382, Scotty Bowman-394, Al Arbor-665 & Pat Burns-937. Joel Quenville, who won his first Cup this season went 917 games before tasting victory.

-Not taking anything away from the 8 coaches who won in fewer games than Boudreau has coached to date, but the circumstances surrounding their wins were far more favorable than what Boudreau had to face when he took over in 2007.  For example, Bylsma’s Pens had gone to the Finals the previous year. The Ducks under Randy Carlyle had lost in the conference championship the previous season. The Avalanche (then the Nordiques) had won the Northeast Division in Marc Crawford’s first season. The Oilers under John Muckler had captured 4 of the previous 6 Cups before he won in 89-90. The Calgary Flames won their division under Crisp in the season before he won the Cup in 88-89 and had been either first or second in the three previous seasons. And the Canadiens were one of the top teams in the league when Jean Perron took them over and won the Cup. Basically, all of those 8 coaches had inherited strong teams that, to their credit, they then led to a Stanley Cup. When Boudreau took over the Caps, the team had experienced successive 70 point seasons and was in last place in the league. So clearly, Bruce had a lot less to work with than the coaches who have had the ultimate success in a shorter time.

 

So what can we draw from all this? Well, it sure appears that like players, coaches generally need NHL on-the-job experience before they’re able to get over the hump. And while there are exceptions, 3-4 full seasons seems to be the magic number for many coaches. Not coincidentally, Boudreau hasn’t completed his third full season yet. Many have said that this is Bruce’s make or break season and that if the Caps don’t win a Cup or, at least, come very close he could be gone. The numbers seem to suggest that if he can’t do it this year, they could be right. Or at least, he will have been given a fair chance to succeed.

YEAR

COACH

TEAM

REGULAR SEASON GAMES COACHED PRIOR TO WINNING CUP

Bruce Boudreau

Was

225

2009-2010

Joel Quenville

Chi

917

2008-09

Dan Bylsma

Pit

25

2007-08

Mike Babcock

Det

410

2006-07

Randy Carlyle

Ana

164

2005-06

Peter Laviolette

Car

298

2003-04

John Tortorella

Tampa

293

2002-03

Pat Burns

NJ

937

2001-02

Scotty Bowman

Det

**(see below)

2000-01

Bob Hartley

Col

246

1999-00

Larry Robinson

NJ

336

1998-99

Ken Hitchcock

Dal

289

1997-98

Scotty Bowman

Det

**(see below)

1996-97

Scotty Bowman

Det

**(see below)

1995-96

Marc Crawford

Col

130

1994-95

Jacques Lemaire

NJ

229

1993-94

Mike Keenan

NYR

564

1992-93

Jacques Demers

Mon

884

1991-92

Scotty Bowman

Pit

**(see below)

1990-91

Bob Johnson

Pit

480

1989-90

John Muckler

Edm

115

1988-89

Terry Crisp

Cal

160

1987-88

Glen Sather

Edm

**(see below)

1986-87

Glen Sather

Edm

**(see below)

1985-86

Jean Perron

Mon

80

1984-85

Glen Sather

Edm

**(see below)

1983-84

Glen Sather

Edm

382

1982-83

Al Arbor

NYI

**(see below)

1981-82

Al Arbor

NYI

**(see below)

1980-81

Al Arbor

NYI

**(see below)

1979-80

Al Arbor

NYI

665

1978-79

Scotty Bowman

Mon

**(see below)

1977-78

Scotty Bowman

Mon

**(see below)

1976-77

Scotty Bowman

Mon

**(see below)

1975-76

Scotty Bowman

Mon

**(see below)

1974-75

Fred Shero

Phi

**(see below)

1973-74

Fred Shero

Phi

234

1972-73

Scotty Bowman

Mon

394

1971-72

Tom Johnson

Bos

156

1970-71

Al MacNeil

Mon

55

1969-70

Harry Sinden

Bos

280

If this FanPost is written by someone other than one of the blog's editors, the opinions expressed in it do not necessarily reflect those of this blog or SB Nation.

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