lucky: And Crystal is the busy bee. Together, it really works
And Crystal is the busy bee. Together, it really works
Bruce Boudreau is ubiquitous in hockey circles. He Mitchell Stephens Youth Jersey was an extra in "Slap Shot." In fact, he even taught Paul Newman how to take one. Wayne Gretzky once cited Boudreau -- who averaged more than 100 points a season for the Toronto Marlboros of the Ontario Hockey Association -- one his favorite players as kid. Over four-plus decades, Boudreau has played for or coached 27 teams, including 763 career games behind the bench for the Washington Capitals, Anaheim Ducks and Minnesota Wild. In April, the Associated Press published an article analyzing "The Sixteen www.officiallightningproshop.com/Mitchell_Stephens_Jersey Degrees of Bruce Boudreau," connecting the 62-year-old to each of the 16 2017 Stanley Cup playoff teams. Boudreau often tells friends he was put on Earth to promote hockey. This summer, he backed that up. "I kind of just said, 'What the heck,' " Boudreau said. "And I bought a friggin' hockey team." One year after taking over the reins of the Wild, Boudreau and his wife, Crystal, have become minority owners in a junior hockey team: the Blue Ox, an United States Premier Hockey League expansion team in Coon Rapids, Minnesota. If it sounds like a whim Rondae Hollis-Jefferson Youth Jerseypurchase, well, only sort of. If it feels like an uncommon extracurricular activity for a current NHL bench boss, that's definitely true. More than anything, though, it's a story of hockey vagabonds finally finding a home -- and yes, of Boudreau promoting the sport with which he's already so entrenched. So how did this all unfold? "It wasn't planned, that's for sure," said Jay Witta, who is a minority owner, GM and coach of the Blue Ox. "Actually, the whole thing happened after one lunch meeting." Witta coached Boudreau's son, Brady, last season for the New Ulm Steel of the North American Tier III Hockey League. Witta resigned after the season, looking for a new challenge. Boudreau loved Witta's coaching style, so they met for a bite in April to chat. Witta suggested they should start a new team together. "If you find a team," Boudreau told Witta, "I'm in." A week later, Witta www.authenticnetstore.com/Rondae_Hollisjefferson_Jersey called. "Sooo," he said. "I think I found us a team." Boudreau brought the idea to Crystal. "We asked: Is it financially viable? Yes. Can we have control? Yes," Crystal says. "And that was important because it's our reputation on the line." They closed the deal to buy the team by the end of May. With 61 teams, including nine in Minnesota, the USPHL is the largest amateur league in the country. It is for 16- to 20-year-olds pursuing the next level of hockey, in some ways equivalent to the junior leagues in Canada, the primary source of players for the NHL. "We do have some NHL placements," commissioner Richard Gallant said. "But our No. 1 goal is college placements." Brady Boudreau will be one of of the Blue Ox goaltenders this season. "At first [Brady] didn't want to play for them. He said, 'They're just going to think I made the team because of you,'" Crystal said. "Finally, he said, 'You know what, people are going to think that no matter what. I want to play for you.' And now he gets to live at home, which he hasn't done for two years." After last Charles Oakley Authentic Jersey season, more than 300 USPHL players advanced to play in college -- either Division I, II, III or club hockey. "There's a void sometimes between high school hockey and college hockey," Boudreau said. "What happens to the guys who don't go right to D-I? This league is great, because we can keep kids playing as long as possible." Said Witta: "It's funny, when you think of Bruce, you think of the gruff NHL coach. But you should see him anytime he's around kids. He loves helping them out. At the hockey school he runs with his family, there are kids flocking around him like he's the Pied Piper." "Every time Bruce has been fired, he's not resentful," Crystal said. "He's never been blindsided. Usually he knows it's coming. And I try to take the attitude that it's a new adventure. I'm grateful for everything we have, but it is hard. For the coaches, OK, they go to a new team www.knicksstoreonline.com/Charles_Oakley_Jersey and they have built-in friendships. Guys sitting next to them in the office. We, the wives, have to meet new people, get established." The Boudreaus are hoping, maybe, that streak ends. "We'd like to be Minnesotans," Boudreau said. "I don't want to move much more. And I like Minnesota. It's very similar to growing up in Ontario, and for Crystal, she's from the Midwest. The people are friendly, they all know hockey. My deal is pretty long here [a reported four years], so we feel like we can make friendships." dded Crystal: "This wasn't a one-year deal, it was a longer contract. In the first few weeks we met all of our neighbors, and that's never happened before. And so with this hockey team, maybe this is something we can do for a while, and maybe pass along to our kids."