Bruce Boudreau and Pro Wrestling
Just in case Caps fans don't already love Bruce Boudreau enough, I figured I might as well write something about his pro wrestling fandom. And sure, if you ask the coach about wrestling, he'll feign nonchalance, saying he's in his 50s and he doesn't have time to follow it anymore.
"I mean, I don't buy the pay-per-views every Sunday or anything," he said.
Still, there's something there. Without much prodding, we managed to draw Boudreau into a glory days discussion that ranged from Bam Bam Bigelow to Mick Foley to Jake the Snake's snakes. A Caps staffer recalled a debate with Boudreau about how many men have served as The Undertaker. And one media member recalled Boudreau saying the last book he read was Bret Hart's "Hitman."
("He's a Canadian," Boudreau explained. "He owned the Calgary Hitmen, so I knew he was a hockey fan.")
Plus, Boudreau has met countless WWE stars, including John Cena and Triple H.
"I've met all of them," he said. "It's a very simple question. If they're doing a show, if they're doing RAW on Monday, they're in our building the whole day. And they usually use our dressing room, and they usually use our trainers, and so you get to meet them."
But it's not like Boudreau's demonstrating suplexes or referencing classic WrestleMania moments in the dressing room. I asked five different Caps about this topic; none knew that their coach was a fan, and none follow the game.
"I used to watch it back in the Hulk Hogan days," John Erskine said.
"I went to high school with John Cena," offered Tom Poti. (Cushing Academy, if you're curious. You can look it up.)
I asked Donald Brashear for his favorites; "The big giant, Andre the Giant?" he replied. "I liked him because he was so big and so strong, nobody could move him. Or maybe Koko B. Ware."
I admit to having gone through two WWE phases myself, including the magical mid-'90s, when the programs crackled with more compelling storylines than a Caps-Penguins playoff series.
"It was like the soaps," Boudreau agreed, which took us to a different place. Because in the late '70s and early '80s, when Boudreau was skating for a living instead of making others skate, the afternoon TV options were somewhat limited. There was no ESPNews and no SportsCenter, and so instead, Boudreau and his teammates got into Luke and Laura. Seriously.
"After practice we would all go to lunch, and rush home to see what was happening," he said. "It was crazy. Hockey players, when they're young, they have nothing to do....You'd get involved in a storyline, and you wanted to know how it ended up. I used to hate it. One little storyline would last two weeks. The littlest thing, like walking from one house to the other house."
General Hospital, One Life to Live, All My Children, he watched them all. Did you know Demi Moore got her start on General Hospital, he asked me. Yeah, I didn't either. But this was supposed to be about pro wrestling, not soap operas. So, what's the appeal?
"I mean, it's entertaining," said Boudreau, who deserves merit pay for putting up with this line of questioning. "I don't sit there and believe it, but some of their athleticism is quite good. And they certainly can take pain, and they're tough. I've met a lot of wrestlers, and I really admire them because of the toughness that they've shown."
So, there are some similarities between wrestlers and hockey players?
"I'd like to have a couple of them on defense," Boudreau said.
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