No, I'm not saying that because I feel that Guy Boucher has some insane level of undying loyalty to the Canadiens that he would turn down an NHL job in the hopes of one day coaching in Montreal.
I'm saying that because he managed to speak to reporters today for a full hour without giving the slightest clue as to what he would he do should the opportunity to grab an NHL job arise.
Boucher is a smart man, that's hardly breaking news. But after listening to him speak at length today about the rumours and innuendo swirling around him regarding a potential job in Columbus or elsewhere, I came away even more impressed with Boucher than I already was.
Here's the story I wrote today on Boucher's future and also a little bit of what makes him successful as a coach, but really, that only probably scratches the surface.
Just hearing P.K. Subban talk about the Bulldogs as his family made me understand what kind of a mastermind Boucher is when it comes to dealing with people. But today, he provided several other examples.
My colleague and good buddy from La Presse Marc-Antoine Godin asked Boucher today why he wasn't on the ice with the Canadiens prospects at the ongoing development camp in Brossard. Here's what he said:
"From above it lets me takes notes. All the scouts are there, they're the ones that know these guys, and if I'm on the ice I can't ask them questions immediately. I'm not going to skate around with a notebook so I can write down my questions to ask them later. I prefer being up there to ask my questions, and I filled out a whole notebook on each player. It lets me gather some information before having them with me next year so I'm ahead of the game. I have an approach that is individual, and that takes information on each individual. This allows me to do that."
If you had seen the drills these guys were doing, you would be wondering like I was how Boucher managed to fill out notebooks on each player. But that answer, that approach, shows Boucher is a coach of men. He doesn't coach a team, he coaches men and makes them into a team based on the individual needs of each man. This guy, clearly, understands what makes players tick. Or at least, that is Boucher's priority, not X's and O's and systems and whatnot.
That's not to say Boucher leaves tactics aside, because he's also a progressive thinker on that front, but he wants to make absolutely certain he knows everything possible about the players he will be asking to give their all for him and the team. That is new school coaching, and something I think today's player really needs.
The Canadiens are in an impossible situation when it comes to Boucher. Pierre Gauthier has made it clear the team will not stand in his way if an NHL team comes calling, which is exactly the same approach every other team in the league would take. You don't want to be known as an organization that holds coaches back, so anyone hoping the Habs would force Boucher to honour his multi-year contract can forget it.
But his loss would be a great one, simply because Montreal's young prospects are being exposed to his approach, and it's something they will carry with them forever whether Boucher is here or not. Another season of that kind of influence would mean a great deal to the organization.
I asked Philippe Lefebvre - the undrafted prospect from the Drummondville Voltigeurs that got a tryout with the Canadiens last year thanks in large part to Boucher and earned himself a pro contract - to describe the uniqueness of playing under such a cerebral coach.
"It's tough to say," Lefebvre said. "It's an experience you have to go through to understand."
That answer told me that Lefebvre was deeply impacted by coming into contact with Boucher, and whether or not he ever gets a chance to play for him again I got the impression that his contact with Boucher will stay with him forever.
Boucher dropped a bunch of hints that he's enjoying his time with the Canadiens, and he's also on record saying that someone needs to spend a lot of time in the trenches in order to make sure they are prepared for the future. He's the type of guy I could see saying to himself that perhaps he needs to experience a season in the AHL where everything doesn't turn out so well, where he doesn't win coach of the year and his team finishes with the second best record in the league and comes within a game of the Calder Cup. That maybe he needs to fail and recover at that level before moving on.
But I have trouble believing a man who has Boucher's self-confidence - and it's oozing off of him - would turn down a shot at an NHL job.
If indeed he is offered the job in Columbus, Boucher would have a team with a superstar offensive talent, some young pieces around him up front to support him, and a young goalie that still shows a ton of promise despite a rough sophomore season. He'd have a suspect defence, but that would be the only downside.
You could do worse for a first gig, because usually when you're hired as an NHL coach it's because the team is not succeeding. The new coach in Atlanta, for instance, will be walking into a situation where he is bound to fail. But Columbus has the potential to succeed even though this past season was atrocious.
If I were him, I'd take it. But I'm not him, and he might not.