Wild head coach Bruce Boudreau and Wolves head coach Tom Thibodeau both arrived last season with significant expectations as accomplished coaches taking over promising teams. They also brought significantly different styles.
Boudreau is a classic hockey coach, good with a one-liner but also not afraid to show his emotions during a game. He was able to show off the happier side of that mix plenty a year ago when the Wild set a franchise record for points.
Thibodeau speaks almost in a stream of consciousness about how his team must keep working, always, to become better. During games? His facial expression during a 31-51 season a year ago rarely changed from a scowl, unless it was to something worse.
This year, Thibodeau has already declared in the midst of a winning streak that has now grown to five games for a 7-3 team that he is “never happy.” But he’s also shown a smoother edge, according to new Wolves forward Taj Gibson, who played for Thibodeau in Chicago previously.
“That’s what I’ve been seeing behind the scenes over the years,’’ Gibson said recently of his coach. “If you do your job and win games, you’re going to see that, you’re going to see him open up.”
Boudreau, meanwhile, has had reason to be the truly grumpy one of the pair. His Wild, after a sloppy 5-3 loss at Boston on Monday, sits at 5-6-2 and in last place in the Central Division. Boudreau did not hide his displeasure postgame
“We weren’t very competitive the first two periods,” he said. “Those were probably the most embarrassing two periods I’ve been involved with — a lot of teams.” There was more, which you can see here on this video of his postgame remarks.
“What’s going on is people aren’t doing their jobs,” Boudreau said.
Even when his team was playing better, Boudreau wasn’t afraid to deliver critiques with a blunt edge. Through 13 games, though, the Wild is making him a Thibodeau level of cranky.