When Bruce Boudreau worked for Jean Perron
Having suffered through relatively lame Round 1 controversies involving Tomas Plekanec's mild trash talk, Jose Theodore's mild response, Jaroslav Halak's shaking hand, Mike Green's mild trash talk, Jacques Martin's legal observations of Caps practice, anthem boos, unsportsmanlike calls and the snowing of young children, here's one that's actually interesting. And not controversial, I guess.
In the mid-'90s, Bruce Boudreau briefly served as an assistant coach with the San Francisco Spiders under Jean Perron, who had previously led the Canadiens to the 1986 Stanley Cup. I say "briefly," because Perron canned Boudreau --who was also the team's assistant general manager -- after just three games. Also, Rod Langway was apparently a player-assistant coach on that Spiders team, which means Boudreau briefly coached Langway? Maybe I should have read his whole book.
Anyhow, Montreal's La Presse wrote a story on the Perron-Boudreau incident last week, in which Boudreau said a battle over authority led to his firing from des Spiders de San Francico, dans la Ligue internationale. I'm using translation help here from Blake Gopnik, The Post's chief art critic and a former resident of Montreal, and also Barry Svrluga's mom, who teaches French. Yes, that's the most enjoyable sentence I've ever written in my life.
"To this day I don't understand exactly what happened," Boudreau told the paper. "Here's how I understand it: [Perron] feared me. He felt threatened by the players who listened to me instead of listening to him....He especially wanted to be an authoritarian guy with the young [players]. I never believed in that kind of authority, and I tried to be gentler with the players."
There's lots more, if anyone wants to try out their French translation skills. But CKAC sports radio then got Perron on the air to talk about this incident, and he laughed it off, saying Boudreau wasn't cut out to be an assistant coach to anybody, and that he got fired because he was countermanding Perron's orders.
"Bruce was always the head coach; He wanted to do things his way," Perron said. "And I said, 'That's not how it works. I'm the head coach.' "
There was evidently some conflict over a scouting assignment, and then in the third game, some players went to Perron and complained that Boudreau had gone into the dressing room and told them to ignore Perron's game plan and instead listen to him.
"After the game, I said to Bruce Boudreau, 'Ok, you're gonna take your stuff and you're gonna beat it the hell home, I don't want to see that face of yours again,' " Perron told CKAC.
But he was apparently laughing about the incident and talking about how long ago it was, and how he's happy to see Boudreau succeeding in Washington. So, no controversy, but that's a pretty brilliant little tale. Now I just need to figure out whether Langway was part of the insurrection.
(Of course, a column in Thursday's English-language Gazette led with this: "Jean Perron thinks Bruce Boudreau is a clown." Not sure where that came from. The column also said Boudreau could never coach in Montreal, because "Despite his French last name, Boudreau's French is limited to ordering coq au vin and poutine, and everyone knows the first requirement here is fluency in the language of Voltaire." What a series.)
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