By Michael Russo (The Athletic)
Bruce Boudreau has been around long enough to know what was coming.
When the outside noise was that loud, when insiders were basically announcing that Rick Tocchet was going to be the incoming Canucks coach, when they were even naming Tocchet’s starting date before the outgoing coach had been fired, Boudreau knew it was more than likely true.
That’s why Boudreau coached Saturday’s Canucks game against the Oilers like it would be his last. That’s why he welled up after the morning skate the day before. That’s why he looked so beaten down in the third period and so stressed on that coach’s challenge that ultimately overturned an Oilers goal. That’s why he stayed on the bench after the final horn and looked around Rogers Arena with tears in his eyes, saluting the fans who were saluting him.
And that’s why he booked a flight home for Monday night with his wife of 28 years, Crystal, a week and a half ago.
As part of his contract with the Canucks, Boudreau and his family members receive 10 free plane tickets to and from their home in Hershey, Pa. As the rumblings grew, the Boudreaus booked one-way tickets home. After packing up every morsel of their downtown Vancouver condo the past few days, Bruce and Crystal will board a red-eye for Seattle with a connection to Harrisburg, Pa., through Atlanta.
“Better be safe than sorry, I guess,” Boudreau, chuckling, said Monday in an exclusive 45-minute interview with The Athletic. “We figured we could always change it. Unfortunately, we won’t have to. It’ll be a long day and night of flying, but we’ll be home at noon (Tuesday).”