News leaked last Friday that the Columbus Blue Jackets have offered Guy Boucher their open head coaching position, despite no official word from general manager Scott Howson or the Montreal Canadiens, Boucher's parent club.
Boucher, currently the head coach of the American Hockey League's Hamilton Bulldogs, is one of hockey's hottest coaching commodities.
He led the Bulldogs to a 52-17-3-8 record, best in the AHL Western Conference. Hamilton made it to the Western Conference Finals, where they fell to the Texas Stars in seven games.
Jackets fans and analysts alike have deemed this offseason the most important in franchise history.
When former coach Ken Hitchcock was fired in February, only 10 months removed from taking the team to the playoffs for the first time, it sent a message that mediocrity was no longer acceptable in Columbus.
Howson's decision to offer the position to Boucher is not surprising to anyone who has followed the Jackets' coaching search over the last couple of months.
It is unfortunate that this news was leaked before a coach actually signed a contract.
Blue Jackets beat writer Tom Reed mentioned in his latest blog post, and I agree, that Boucher's decision will make or break the franchise. The embarrassment caused by Boucher turning down the job could cripple the franchise's credibility for years.
While there are plenty of capable alternatives, like Scott Arniel of the Manitoba Moose, Kevin Dineen of the Portland Pirates, and associate head coach Claude Noel, Howson's decision to go with Boucher signifies a leap of faith.
Boucher is unproven at the NHL level, and his 1-3-1 forecheck and powerplay system would be highly experimental at the NHL level. There's worry it may not even work.
But a pick like Boucher would send a message to the fans. In this case, the youth movement in Columbus will carry the franchise for the next five to 10 years.
Boucher, at 38, would be the youngest coach in the NHL, and he would carry a lot of weight with the younger guys, like Nikita Filatov and Derick Brassard, in the locker room.
Boucher is expected to let the team know of his decision by next week, so this weekend will be, with all certainty, the end of the Doug McClain era in Columbus.
The new coach will most likely clean house. Maybe the team's unsuccessful decisions will be a thing of the past.
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