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Maple Leafs Part Ways with Guy Boucher: What’s Next for Him? – Hockey Writers – Toronto Maple Leafs

Yesterday the Toronto Maple Leafs announced that assistant coach Guy Boucher will not return next season. This happened a little over a month after the team fired coach Sheldon Keefe and replaced him with Craig Berube. Although his time with Toronto was short-lived, Boucher has a lot of experience, and it will be interesting to see if he gets another assignment elsewhere in the league. Let’s take a look at his career and where he might end up.

Boucher Before Maple Leaves

The player from Notre-Dame-du-Lac, Quebec spent 13 years coaching teams at various levels of minor hockey. An assistant coach with McGill University during the 1996-1997 season, he joined the coaching staff of the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (now the Quebec Maritime Junior Hockey League) as an assistant coach before being offered the head coaching position. the Lac-Saint-Louis Lions in the Development Hockey League Midget AAA. He stayed on that circuit for three seasons before returning to the QMJHL as an assistant coach with Rimouski Oceanic. After that, he got a head coaching role with the Drummondville Voltigeurs and led them to the league championship in 2008-2009.

He caught the attention of the Montreal Canadiens organization, who appointed him as the coach of the Hamilton Bulldogs. He would remain at the helm of Hamilton for one season, being named the American Hockey League’s coach of the year after leading his men to a 52-17-11 record, even though most of his best players were called up by the Canadiens. . The Bulldogs also traveled to Scotland to compete in and win the Gardiner Cup that season (a four-team weekend tournament featuring the Bulldogs, Toronto Marlies, Belfast Giants, and Edinburgh Capitals). His impressive first season of hockey coaching caught the eye of several NHL teams. He turned down an offer to coach the Columbus Blue Jackets before accepting an offer from the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Former assistant coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs
Guy Boucher (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand)

Boucher was behind the Tampa Bay bench for two and a half seasons, posting a 97-78-20 record and taking the team to the Eastern Conference Final in 2011. They then lost the best-of-seven series 4-3 against the Boston Bruins. That year, Martin St. The 35-year-old Louis led the Lightning in points with 99, eight more than the 20-year-old Steven Stamkos. After being fired by Tampa Bay, he coached SC Bern in Switzerland for three seasons before returning to the NHL to coach the Ottawa Senators for two and a half seasons.

After being fired by the Senators for the 2018-2019 season, Boucher retired from coaching and appeared on various panels on Quebec’s premier sports network RDS. His ideas were always well thought out and delivered. Unlike most RDS panels, he was unbiased; he commented as a hockey expert and not a Canadiens fan like many former NHL players who have found work in the media in general.

Back to Coaching in Toronto

Prior to the 2023-2024 season, Boucher and Mike Van Ryn were hired as Sheldon Keefe’s assistant coaches. There was a void on his staff after Spencer Carbery left the ship to take a head coaching job with the Washington Capitals. Although there was only one vacancy, Keefe added both as newly hired general manager Brad Treliving asked him to put together the best pitching staff that could help the team win.

Boucher has been tasked with focusing on the offensive side of the game and on the power play. With a strong offense like the Maple Leafs’ and a new voice running that part of the game, there was some progress during the regular season. Toronto has scored 298 goals this season, an average of 3.63 goals per game (G/G), which puts them second to the Colorado Avalanche in both departments. Last year, the Maple Leafs put 280 goals on the board with a G/G of 3.41. Therefore, there was an improvement in the offensive effect.

Related: Are Maple Leafs Shooting Sheldon Keefe Enough Change?

On the power play, after the 2022-2023 season, there was a 26% success rate. With Boucher this season, it dropped to 24%. It did not drop much as they were the seventh team in the league in this department, but they finished second the season before he was hired. In addition, the power play’s efficiency dropped significantly in the playoffs. In the seven-game series against the Bruins, the Maple Leafs scored just once, for a 4.8% success rate.

Perhaps, it was dissatisfaction with those numbers that led to his firing or, it could just be that Berube wants to hire and use selective assistants, which is understandable.

What’s Next for Boucher?

Could Boucher return to the Canadiens organization after giving him his first head coaching job? With 232 goals this season, Montreal finished 26thth in the league with an average of 2.83 goals scored per game, numbers that could use some help.

On the power play, there was a 17.5% success rate, up from 16.1% last season. It’s a modest improvement, to say the least, and I believe it’s time for the Canadiens to move on from Alex Burrows. He’s had more than enough opportunities to right this ship, but he hasn’t. In addition, Boucher also has a master’s degree in sports psychology, which could help in Montreal. His field of study can help him guide players who want to go back, like Josh Anderson, for example, or players who need to accept a new, reduced role, like Brendan Gallagher.

Can Martin St-Louis make room on his staff for his former coach? Stranger things have happened, and anything that can give the Canadians an edge would be a welcome addition. As for the Maple Leafs, they recently added Lane Lambert as an associate coach, but Boucher’s departure could mean another addition to Berube’s staff.

Should Boucher fail to find another coaching job, there will always be a place for him at RDS, given how well his first job went. Meanwhile, in May, the Calgary Flames announced that they are not retaining the services of Marc Savard and Berube’s former assistant in St. Louis, could there be a reunion in Toronto?

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