“Gulls Hire a Winner”
The San Diego Gulls, who have gone (210-131-32) in six years in the American Hockey League, have sent a ton of talent up the ladder to the Anaheim Ducks of the NHL. They lead the AHL in attendance most years, in excess of 9,000 per game.
Nick Ritchie…Shea Theodore..Maxime Comtois..Troy Terry…and Brandon Montour have become regulars in the NHL. Goalie John Gibson has become a superstar. Next in line might be the #1-picks Trevor Zegras and Jamie Drysdale.
From Dallas Eakins to Kevin Dineen, the Gulls have had quality coaching and demanding leadership, but it evidently was not enough.
The Ducks have decided to change head coaches, with Eakins on the Ducks bench, they opted out on Dineen, and hired Joel Bouchard from the Montreal Canadiens top AHL farm team, the Laval Rocket.
The Ducks want ‘complete’ players when they call someone up from San Diego, not just guys on the roster. Eakins molded young men into pros, taught them about life on and off the ice, and was himself promoted to the Ducks head job. Dineen demanded hard work and wanted to win in San Diego, with the insinuation his players were not ready to play at the NHL level..
Bouchard comes with quite a track record. A journeyman defenseman, whose career stretched from Calgary to Pittsburgh and places in between, he learned from two of the best.
And he put what he learned into good practice, spending 8-years as GM and coach of Blainville Armada in the Quebec Junior Hockey League, winning a Memorial Cup. He then joined the Canadiens organization, taking over their AHL-Laval Rocket, leading them to 3-straight winning seasons in the AHL.
What was his impact? As the Montreal Canadiens drove to the Stanley Cup finals a week ago, 11-of his Laval players were part of the Habs game night rosters.
Bouchard won the press conference on Monday. He will likely win games in San Diego with his teaching style. What he really wants is to have Gulls players put on Ducks jersey’s in Anaheim and win immediately.
Comments from GM Bob Murray and Gulls coach Joel Bouchard.
..He fits the bill..he is all about development.
..He did it in Quebec League and then at Laval
..We knew his contract was coming up-he was our #1 guy
..Montreal GM-Marc Bergevin knew our intentions to hire him
..Kevin Dineen did a good job-we wanted to go in a different direction
..Kevin did not opt out-I elected to make this change
..Joel wins and develops at the same time
..His young AHL players contributed immediately in Montreal
..Being in San Diego is a dream come true for the Ducks
..This has been a tremendous working agreement
..Been in Quebec a long time-never thought this day would come
..Great experience in Laval in AHL
..I was ready to move up in Montreal-did not happen
..I like challenges-I like reinventing myself
..Barry Trotz in Nashville-biggest influence in my career
..I learned how to treat and connect with young players
..I spent 3-years working with Jacques Demers
..We talked hockey situations..hockey players…life on and off the ice
..Roster turnover is a reality in the AHL
..Coaching AHL is so different than coaching in NHL
..I want to mandate the process daily-win with attitude
..I want to focus my energy daily
..Make the player a better player-person daily
..This is all about the player-making him a better version of himself daily
..Hockey is all about finding solutions
..Challenge these players to develop daily
..This offer came out of left-field…this was not part of my game plan
..My job is to give these guys the tools to get the job done in the NHL
..The Gulls will be about habits-details
The last two years came up so empty for the Gulls.
Covid took a red hot team off the ice at then end of the 2020 season
In 2021 there were no AHL playoffs-just a divisional series
Dineen did a good job in a horrid Covid-situation yet they made a change
Bouchard will be tasked with the challenge of winning and getting good players to Anaheim to put on Ducks colors and be ready to contribute..
It’s not part of the game plan, but if Eakins cannot put Anaheim back into the playoffs, Bouchard might be the coach in waiting if he wins next season in San Diego. His next press conference might be in Anaheim.