Humbled Boudreau will have long line of suitors

Hockey Central at Noon discussion on whether Bruce Boudreau deserved to be the fall guy for the Anaheim Ducks first round series loss to the Predators.

They’re already lining up to talk to Bruce Boudreau.

Unfortunately, he’s just a little busy at the moment for job interviews.

On Tuesday, the recently fired Anaheim Ducks coach played 18 holes at Shady Canyon golf course in Irvine, Ca., shooting a tidy 81. That, however, was just a warmup for the main event, a visit north on Wednesday to the Sherwood Golf and Country club in Thousand Oaks, and a round with the Great One, Wayne Gretzky.

“I’m more nervous about that than jumping behind the bench again with a new team,” quipped Boudreau.

Yes, despite being six years Gretzky’s senior and the former coach of superstar NHLers like Alex Ovechkin and Ryan Getzlaf, the 61-year-old Boudreau admitted to being a little jittery after Gretzky called him last week to offer condolences on being dismissed by the Ducks and to invite him for a round of golf at his home course.

“I’m older than (Gretzky), but I still idolize him,” Boudreau told Sportsnet Tuesday night. “I’m such a hockey fan. Whether I was playing in the minors or whatever, I still watched him for years. He was so amazing. You look at his scoring records now and they just seem incredible.

“So we’re going to play golf. Then I’ll look for a job after that.”

Scotty Bowman called last week as well — as did many well-wishers — and this week the calls have started coming in from other NHL clubs interested in hiring him. Minnesota and Ottawa have requested permission to talk to him, and Calgary has a job opening now as well after firing Bob Hartley Tuesday.

Other big names are out there, including Hartley, Marc Crawford and Guy Boucher, but Boudreau has immediately vaulted to the top of the heap.

“I don’t know if I would say I’m confident I’ll get another job,” said Boudreau. “After 33 years in the minors, you don’t take anything for granted. You just hope you’re given an opportunity.

“I’ve always had to fight for everything. So I’m not about to start thinking people are going to be knocking down my door.”

Boudreau was fired hours after the Ducks were eliminated in Game 7 by the Nashville Predators, and he expressed appreciation that GM Bob Murray acted quickly. Their conversation lasted about three minutes, Boudreau said.

“I said I was grateful he didn’t fire me in December,” said Boudreau. “And then I thanked him for the great memories in Anaheim.”

As soon as Calgary announced Hartley was being dismissed, there were rumours that Boudreau was already on his way to Alberta. But no, he was playing golf, although he acknowledged there have been expressions of interest.

“I can say that I’ve had conversations,” he said. “Gratifying? Yes, that’s a good word. You always wonder if you’re doing good work. So when other teams are interesting in talking to you, sure, that’s a good thing.”

When Boudreau was fired in Washington in late November of 2011, he was quickly snapped up by the Ducks.

“It went really fast. I mean, shockingly fast,” he recalled. “I was sitting at home bored on the Monday morning after [Capitals GM] George [McPhee] had called to tell me, and I texted my buddy Rick Paterson with the Ducks to say, ‘Hey, I just got fired. You need a coach?’ I was just kidding around, but I wanted to let him know what had happened.

“Well, the next thing you know I was talking to Bob Murray. I was fired on Monday morning, I was in Anaheim Wednesday night and it was announced on Thursday.”

He has no plans to take his time about his next move this time.

“There are only 30 of these jobs,” he said. “For me to be holier than thou and think I can pick and choose, well, I just hope I’m lucky enough to be offered one job.”

He’s never had a real interview for an NHL coaching job — McPhee just hired him from the minor league affiliate, while Murray talked to him on the phone for about 10 minutes — so he figures he may have to prepare for a more detailed process this time.

“But I’m feeling fine,” he said. “I was sort of waiting to be fired. I expected it to happen. I was worried about it all the time.

“So in the end, it was more of a relief than anything.”

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