Vancouver Canucks have June 1 deadline to re-sign coach Bruce Boudreau – Smithers Interior News

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A sample of 57 games wasn’t big enough for Vancouver Canucks president of hockey operations Jim Rutherford to commit to extending head coach Bruce Boudreau’s contract.

“We would be willing to bring him back under the contract he agreed to when he came here,” Rutherford said at the Canucks’ season-ending press conference on Tuesday. “That certainly doesn’t mean that at the end of next year we wouldn’t want him back if he continues to do the job he’s been doing.

“I feel as good as him, it wasn’t a full season.”

The Canucks started the 2021-22 campaign with an 8-15-2 record before then-coach Travis Green and general manager Jim Benning were fired in early December. Team owner Francesco Aquilini immediately hired Boudreau before Rutherford joined the team a few days later.

“In our agreement, both parties have until June 1,” Rutherford said of the timeline for a decision on Boudreau’s future. “Our discussions with him have been very positive. He knows very well that we appreciate and respect the work he does. We explained to him why we do it the way we do and why we want him back.

“I told (GM) Patrik (Allvin) and Jim that I wanted to coach here next year,” Boudreau said in a separate availability Monday. “We’re just talking right now and I’m sure hopefully things are getting done. But I think they want me back and I know I want to be back, so I think it should work.

Under Boudreau, the Canucks posted a 32-15-10 record, a 106-point pace over a full 82-game season. They remained in the playoff chase until the final week of the regular season, eventually finishing five points from a playoff berth.

But while the team showed promise, Rutherford was unwavering in his assessment that further changes were needed.

“We would like to see our team play a more structured game and not depend so much on our goalkeeper,” he said. “But we certainly think there are enough good players here to continue building here over the next year or two to become a consistent playoff team and contender.”

The off-season to-do list begins this month with professional and amateur scouting meetings, ahead of the 2022 NHL Draft in Montreal on July 7-8 and the opening of free agency on July 13.

“We would like to stay with our same plan,” Rutherford said. “We have players, keep them in their mid-20s or below so the team can come together in a year or two. There may be a case where it ends up in free agency, maybe a few weeks later, a player in his thirties falls back and we may think it’s the right thing to do at the right price and the right term . But our plan is still the same.

One of the club’s main off-season priorities will be managing striker Brock Boeser’s upcoming contract. The 25-year-old is set to become a restricted free agent with a $7.5 million qualifying bid requirement with arbitration rights.

“We had positive discussions with Brock and his agent,” Allvin said. “So we have to keep doing that.”

Two other top forwards, captain Bo Horvat and top scorer JT Miller, each have one year remaining on their current contracts. They will be able to sign contract extensions after July 13.

“When the time comes, we will definitely contact their agents,” Allvin said. “I’ve had exit meetings with JT and I’ll have some with Bo next week. They’re good players so we want to talk about that for sure.

Rutherford’s off-season plans extend well beyond player personnel decisions. He announced on Tuesday that the club will undertake a major off-season renovation of locker rooms and team services areas at Rogers Arena, and that plans are progressing for the Canucks’ first dedicated practice rink in franchise history.

The off-season schedule also includes the return of development camp and post-draft prospects to the University of British Columbia July 10-15, training camp in Whistler September 23-24, and the return of the YoungStars Classic and Rookie. camp in Penticton from September 14-18, after a three-year hiatus.

In an effort to increase the organization’s presence throughout British Columbia, the Canucks moved their AHL farm club to the Fraser Valley this season.

“It could be the best franchise in the American Hockey League over time,” Rutherford said. “When Francesco first came to speak to me, that was a priority among a number of things that we talked about, the importance of having this franchise here in BC. And make sure you have good players there, so that we have a good team every year. It is very important for our franchise.

The Abbotsford Canucks are set to start their first-round best-of-three playoff series on the road Tuesday night against the Bakersfield Condors.

Key players include Spencer Martin, who has signed a contract extension that puts him in position to replace Thatcher Demko on the NHL team next season, and Vasily Podkolzin, the 20-year-old first-round pick who finished with 14 goals and 26 points in his rookie season with Vancouver this year.

“I think this is a great opportunity for all of these young players to get the experience of playing in the playoffs and playing big hockey in May,” Allvin said.

Carol Schram, The Canadian Press

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