Everybody in the NHL seems to have crossed paths with almost everybody else at some point, whether in youth hockey, juniors, college or the minor leagues. But San Jose Coach Todd McLellan and Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau, who will be on opposing benches Monday night when the Sharks face the Ducks at the Honda Center, know each other especially well: They were roommates while playing for the Springfield (Mass.) Indians of the American Hockey League from 1987-89.
McLellan, who had a brief minor-league career, had nothing but praise for Boudreau, who was a legendary scorer in the minor leagues. McLellan said that Boudreau, who is more than 12 years older, became a mentor and older brother to him, a kindness McLellan has never forgotten.
“Bruce was a tremendous roommate. His family at that time took a lot of us younger players under their wings—not just Gabby’s but his family,” McLellan said, adding that the Boudreau family would invite young players to dinners.
“I learned a lot about leadership as a player from him. We didn’t have a very strong team. We did more fighting than scoring I think back then, and Gabby was one of the offensive guys. But being a roommate with him and being able to talk about offense and how he scored and how he persevered through the minors was a good thing for me as an individual. I appreciated my time with him. Not sure I’d want to room with him now but he was a really good mentor for me.”
McLellan insisted he was the neater of the two roommates, which is easy to believe. It’s also easy to believe that Boudreau was as chatty and engaging then as he is now.
“He was definitely Gabby then. He told some great stories. Still does,” McLellan said. “His stories are tremendous. He’s got a great sense of humor and he’s a fun guy to be around. They’re fortunate to have him here.”