There might be more than just idle speculation to the Bruce Boudreau-to-Toronto rumours. That plus interviews with now-former Leafs assistant coaches Andrew Brewer and Paul McFarland in today’s links.
Andrew Brewer discusses role with Leafs, recent exit from team (TSN1050)
The Leafs‘ former assistant coach — whose role primarily involved video work — Andrew Brewer joined First Up on TSN1050 to discuss his five seasons in Toronto and his recent departure from the team.
Brewer on the differences in his role under Sheldon Keefe vs. Mike Babcock:
In my role, one of the main differences: Under Mike, every morning, I had a team faceoff meeting. He was very into faceoffs. Sheldon isn’t as much as dedicated to showing the team faceoffs. He would show a couple of them in the evening meetings. That’s a little bit how my role changed.
But I did even more pre-scouting and preparation for Sheldon. That was kind of my role.
It was interesting working with two different people. It would be like working with Pierre LeBrun and Bob McKenzie. They both are great at what they do and they have lived experiences. They get to the same way a little bit differently and do things a little bit differently, but it is interesting.
Brewer on the Leafs player most interested in video feedback:
We’d have digital playbooks we would put in their stalls before each game. That is something I designed a few years ago with Lou Lamoriello. He allowed me to design it. I would put a digital playbook in their stall every morning and it’s in their stall throughout the day of the game. They can watch their shifts or any NHL event right on their iPad sitting in their stall or in the player’s lounge. They can also watch it on their phone or wherever they want to be.
Jake Muzzin would probably be our biggest guy. He loves to watch games. The morning after Game 2, he was texting me for shifts. He was in quarantine in his hotel room, but he still wanted to watch his shifts from the night before. He was even watching shifts from our intrasquad games in training camp. He is dedicated to watching.
The older guys tend to like to watch the videos more.
Brewer on coping with the news he was let go by the team:
It is probably the toughest on my kids. We have lived here for five years. We haven’t had a lot of stability in their life moving from New Brunswick to Calgary to Detroit to Toronto. Now they’ve had five great years in one location. It is tough for them that we are back on the move again.
Personally, I think it is exciting. One of my strong points is using technology and changing the way things are done — whether it’s having six TVs in the locker room so we can show multiple things in between or periods or before the game, digital playbooks, re-doing coach facilities, and I was the first to do video on the bench back in 2012. We did online meetings in 2013 for the Olympics. I like change and changing the way things are done.
I am excited about 2020 and what is happening in the sense that it is going to force hockey to change. Your scouts can’t travel all over the world to scout games. You’ve got to do more video. You’ve got to be more efficient in your scouting process because we’ve lost revenue. How can I help a team get over that hump and become more efficient and become better at what they do with less or the same resources? I think it is a great opportunity and I just hope I can get a chance to get going with a new organization.
Brewer on Mike Babcock’s future plans:
I have spoken to him a few times already. At the end of the day, Mike is a fantastic person. He is a godfather to my three boys. I think he is a great person and a great coach, I don’t think he is done with hockey. I don’t know where it when it is going to be. He is going to make sure it is the right situation for him and his family. I would love to work with him again one day.If it works out, great, but if not, we will maintain our friendship and relationship going forward. You can’t take away the two championships together.
He is doing exactly what he loves. He is spending time with his family, water-skiing, and traveling the world and hunting and doing all of the things he absolutely loves. I can’t blame the guy.
Paul McFarland on exit from Leafs to join Kingston Frontenacs (Sportsnet 590)
Former Leafs assistant coach Paul McFarland joined Hockey Central to discuss his decision to leave the NHL to coach and manage Kingston in the OHL.
McFarland on the decision to return to the OHL in the role of head coach and GM:
Any time you are a young guy in any profession, you are constantly trying to evaluate what is best for your career. Ultimately, I really enjoyed the last three years as an assistant coach in the NHL, but I just felt, based on my own aspirations to become a head coach some day, I needed to take the step going back to junior to prove what I am capable of doing as a head coach and gain more experience in that matter.
Obviously, it isn’t an easy decision, especially to leave a historic franchise like the Maple Leafs to do so, but for my own career and development, I thought, at the age I am at, it was the right move.
McFarland on the Leafs‘ core players:
The bottom line is, especially with the top guys in Toronto, the thing that stands out for me in my year there is how much they care. The work that those guys put in, especially in these circumstances with the pause in the season over the course of Phase 2 and Phase 3 just to get prepared… Obviously, we would’ve liked to have played longer than five games, but I think it is an exceptional group of people. They are really dedicated to their craft.
It is not easy necessarily facing that criticism, but I think it comes with the territory of playing in such a great market like Toronto. These are only things that are going to help them get better and grow. It was an impressive group just to see their level of care and dedication to their own game. It is only going to bode well for them going forward.
McFarland on the differences between running the Florida vs. Toronto power plays:
The biggest changes… A lot of it comes from their entries based on the skill set of the players that you have. Having both Mitch and Matty on the entries — they’re two very effective guys that way — and trying to put them in situations that make them feel comfortable on the breakout is an important piece in Toronto.
Something we didn’t really use in Florida because of the way players shoot: Barkov was the net-front guy when I was in Florida primarily used as a screen, or he and Huberdeau would flip spots. Based on Toronto’s skill set with having Nylander play in that spot being a right shot available for a guy like Mitch, we used the goal line a little bit more than in Florida, having more down-low plays be it back door or into the middle bumper.
That is just one adjustment that we made in Toronto that we didn’t use in Florida.
Mirtle: Leafs contacted Wild about speaking to Bruce Boudreau (The Athletic)
At some point in the past few months, James Mirtle reported on Wednesday night that the Leafs contacted the Minnesota Wild about interviewing Bruce Boudreau for the vacant assistant coaching position on Sheldon Keefe’s bench. A meeting did not occur, and Mirtle still describes the fit as a long shot.
The Leafs asked the Minnesota Wild for permission to talk to Boudreau at some point in the past few months. No formal interview has taken place, but the news got back to the 65-year-old coach fairly quickly.
Those close to Boudreau say he is intrigued by the idea. The Leafs declined comment.
Boudreau would undoubtedly cast a big shadow on Keefe’s bench, but the credentials speak for themselves — his .635 points percentage is third behind only Scotty Bowman and Jon Cooper among coaches with a minimum of 500 NHL games coached.
A possible replacement for Paul McFarland in the role of offense and power play coach, the Minnesota Wild power play under Boudreau was the best its ever been in franchise history over the past four seasons, clicking over 20% in each of his years behind the bench, to say nothing of the strong offenses (and power plays) he coached in Washington as well as in Anaheim, where he had multiple 50+ win seasons.
You would have to imagine the likelihood of Boudreau circling back around on the Leafs’ AC gig all depends on if he can land an HC position elsewhere this offseason.