Tampa, Florida - Long before he was the NHL's youngest coach, Guy Boucher was on a mission, for more.
"I'm excited to get started," he said last June. And get started he did. Now, at 39, and leading one of the top teams in the league, he is anything but a rookie.
"To me, there's no time to sit in what we've done," he says, referencing the Lightning's blazing first half start.
As serious and intense as he appears behind the bench during games, when actually sitting down with Boucher, the first thing you notice is his engaging, affable personality quick to credit those who gave him this opportunity.
"Wherever I've had success, I've was extremely well-surrounded. And that's the one thing I never want to forget. Whatever I've been a part of, I didn't accomplish by myself," he says. "I am where I am right now, because I've been really fortunate to be around incredible people. And I think it's trickled down to the players and the players feel that new wind."
They also feel a vibe unique in pro sports. Logging ice time with education, then later, advancing his studies while battling injury and illness, Boucher accrued multiple degrees, including a Masters in Sports Psychology. Not to mention, a profound "degree" of perseverance.
"It was a joint venture, always between sports and studies, I continued that as an adult. Basically, I feel that it's always helped me. Not necessarily what I've learned, studying is basically, the way you learn to work, is what I got out of it, and structure. Being able to put things in perspective and structure things in a way that helps teach, helps direct, and be a leader."
No surprise, he has been a winner on every level. But no more impressive than in this NHL debut, getting a piece-meal, injury-riddled team off to the best start in club history.
"It's a team thing," begins Guy. "I've always believed that it's the best team that wins, not the best players. If you're looking at a 6th defenseman, and talking to him, and tell him that he's a 6th defenseman, well, he's going to play like a 6th defenseman. I always talk to the players in a way that they feel they're better than they are because I feel it. I see it.
"You want to feel like the tools that you've got are the necessary tools to have success, and the players have got to feel that themselves. And some of the players who didn't know they were that good, became that good," he explains. "I think these guys have found a way to contribute with their own strengths rather than trying to be something else."
Kind of like their head coach, who is not just growing his players, he is constantly growing himself. Each year, he hires a coach he doesn't know, just to learn from them.
As much as he pushes himself, is he ever satisfied?
"No, never." He laughs. "I need to be better as a coach, and today, I need to be better than I was yesterday, and when I feel that I don't, it really bothers me."
Boucher says he strongly believes we are a product of who we meet in our lives. For him, that has begins with family. He carries a diligence instilled by his father, Wilfred Boucher, who passed away from bone cancer when Guy was only seventeen. More than two decades later, Guy still calls his dad the most influential figure in his life.
"From the time I was three years old, he made a rink for me in the backyard every year. He'd spend the night on it. He'd take me everywhere," Guy remembers, then breaks into a big smile. "He'd wake me up at one in the morning sometimes to watch Gretzky, just to see him play."
Those are great memories for me, but the biggest memory is the passion he had for the game. I think, probably, that's what's carried me my whole life. Having passion for something and following it."
So yes, the passion keeps him pushing. Pushing himself, pushing his team, for everything they believe to achieve. It just makes sense.
"If you do things that other people don't do, eventually you're going to get results that other people don't get."
"There's always a way, there's no problems. There's always solutions. And the players have really bought into that, so hopefully we can keep going that direction."
Boucher also studied environmental biology, history, and bio-systems engineering.
Angela Jacobs 10 News