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Emotional Boudreau: 'I'm still here'

Bruce Boudreau Bruce Boudreau - Getty Images

An emotional Bruce Boudreau politely ended his media availability early on Friday when asked what being a coach in the NHL meant to him as rumours continue to swirl about his future.

"I'll talk later," Boudreau said before walking away.

Boudreau's future as head coach of the Vancouver Canucks has been in question for weeks with president Jim Rutherford admitting on Monday that he'd spoken to people outside the organization about the job.

Speculation went into overdrive on Friday when Boudreau was absent from the team's morning skate ahead of back-to-back home games on Friday and Saturday against the Colorado Avalanche and Edmonton Oilers, respectively.

The 68-year-old Toronto native joked about his absence with reporters, saying, "Fooled you, eh?"

As for the seemingly tenuous nature of his employment, Boudreau indicated he was well aware of the circumstances.

“I’d be a fool to say I don’t know what’s going on," Boudreau said. "But like I said before, you come to work, you realize how great the game is."

Boudreau said his team is also well aware of what's going on.

"They know," Boudreau said, gesturing at the gathered media. "There's a lot of media here. I've got my wife phoning me, saying, 'You're not on the ice! Is everything okay?' So you guys are getting it out all over the country. It's tough not to feel it, but you just...look, you love it and you just want to go do it. So that's just how I shut it out, just realizing how much you love it and care about the players. 

Boudreau is in his second season as head coach of the Canucks, coming aboard after a management shakeup in Dec. 2021 when both head coach Travis Green and general manager Jim Benning were fired.

After an 8-15-2 start to the season, the Canucks went 32-15-10 to finish the year and missed the playoffs by five points. Boudreau signed a one-year extension to continue on as coach last May.

The 2022-2023 season has been a rocky one for the team. Earlier in the season, Vancouver became the first team in NHL history to lose four straight games after holding a multi-goal lead in each contest. The trend has continued for the team, with a total of eight multi-goal leads blown this season.

In his wide-ranging press conference on Monday, Rutherford admitted to speaking to other people about the head coaching role, but said the job was still Boudreau's right now.

“All I can say is that Bruce is our coach right now,” Rutherford said while saying a change wasn't guaranteed. "But with that [said] I’m calling and talking, but don’t know that we’re making a change and don’t want to make a change.”

The name most closely attached to a potential vacancy is that of former Arizona Coyotes head coach Rick Tocchet, who recently finished up with TNT where he served as an analyst for their NHL coverage.

TSN Hockey Insider Chris Johnston addressed the potential arrival of Tocchet during Thursday night's edition of Insider Trading.

"This now appears to be a question of when, not If, Rick Tocchet succeeds Bruce Boudreau as the coach of the Canucks," Johnston said. "Tocchet was very careful with his wording. He was on TNT's broadcasts on Wednesday night. [He] said he didn't have a contract with Vancouver. I would expect that to change at some point here in the next few days. It sounds as though negotiations have started on that deal [and] that Rick Tocchet will probably arrive in Vancouver with a couple additions to his coaching staff as well. And, of course, nothing's officially 100 per cent until pens have been put to paper. That hasn't happened yet. But it does sound as though it's getting very close."

Tocchet, who spent 18 seasons in the league as a player with the Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Los Angeles Kings, Boston Bruins, Washington Capitals and Coyotes, posted a mark of 125-131-34 as Coyotes bench boss.