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Tampa Bay Lightning hires Guy Boucher as coach

TAMPA

Guy Boucher, the Lightning's new coach and new hope for a renaissance, has a pretty simple mantra about how you achieve success:

Be relentless. Push forward toward your goal, no matter what you have to do or overcome.

"For me, it just never ends, this quest to find an edge," he said during his introductory news conference Thursday morning at the St. Pete Times Forum. "I enjoy it."

It's why he stays up until the wee hours studying game film. It's why he has invested so much in education. And it's why he has been able to cope with tragedy and adversity (the death of his father and a mysterious illness that ended his playing days) to rise so rapidly in his profession.

"I tend to think there's always a way," said Boucher, who has what is believed to be a four-year deal and at 38 is the youngest coach in the NHL.

That outlook is what folks say is his essence.

"(I hear) he's the type of coach who really thinks outside the box, is a great communicator with all of his players and is an intense worker," Lightning captain Vinny Lecavalier said. "That's a great recipe for success. I'm real excited."

• • •

Marsha Boucher doesn't even attempt to tell her husband that it's late and he should shut off the television. "He's the most passionate person ever," she said. "When he starts on something, I don't even try to stop him."

And Boucher (whose full name is pronounced GEE boo-SHAY) won't just toil away until the task is done. It has to be done just so. Boucher will tell you he gets that from his father, Wilfred. While in school, if he would score 95 on a test, he said, his father would ask, "How come you made a mistake?" It made an impression about pushing harder and to "never be satisfied."

Boucher did just fine in the classroom, by the way, earning three degrees.

"I got all kinds of different tools out of it," he said, mentioning how engineering is applicable in teaching players about the impact of balance and torque when shooting a puck. "The problem with me — and my wife can tell you — I can't stand still. … I need something to do. I need something to learn. Now. If I don't, I feel useless."

• • •

Former Lightning wing Mathieu Darche played at McGill University in Montreal when Boucher was an assistant at his alma mater and spent part of this season playing for him at AHL Hamilton. He has seen Boucher's drive for years.

Just before this year's AHL all-star break, Hamilton lost at Grand Rapids. The bus ride home was seven hours.

"At 4:30, when we got off the bus, Guy was still on his computer watching the game," Darche said.

Not that Darche was surprised.

"Anything (Boucher) does," he said, "he puts everything into it."

Boucher said no decisions have been made about his Lightning staff. "I want guys who will challenge me and certainly guys who could eventually take my job. That's what I like to surround myself with."

• • •

Boucher will frankly tell you that the death of his father from bone cancer changed his life. Boucher was 17 and found himself the man of the house.

"I had to learn life pretty quick," he said. "I think it helped me, because after that, I was able to overcome a lot more adversity and feel that no matter how difficult it is, there's a way out."

That belief was tested when he was playing in 1996 for Quebec of the now-defunct IHL, then one step from the NHL. Boucher was a speedy, sharpshooting center and dreamed he could take that step.

"I was in the best shape of my life," he said. "And then overnight, I woke up and started having major problems with my arm and my leg and my eye on the right side."

He thought it was the flu, but the weakness persisted. He had trouble seeing. A battery of tests ruled out multiple sclerosis and cancer. It took about a year and half before doctors told him a virus had affected his nerves.

By then, he had lost significant strength and 30 pounds, and was stuck at home in bed for 18 hours a day when he wasn't in the hospital. The illness ended his playing career and took him nearly five years to recover from.

"When you physically can't do what you've done for so many years, it's difficult to accept," he said. "But you know what? It's been a blessing."

Even in his mid 20s, he believed his mind would take him further in life than his body. At McGill, he got into coaching, and around the same time, in 1997, he met Marsha, an engineering student in her first year.

"I met him at the worst possible time of his life," she said, "but Guy has a fire inside him, and you could see that even when he was really sick."

They'll celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary next month. They have three children, Vincent, who turns 8 on June 24, and twin 6-year-old girls, Mila and Naomi.

"Certainly, it turned out to be something extremely positive," Boucher said of the illness. "I always feel that adversity is something you not only learn from, but it builds you; it makes you who you are.

"I kind of like adversity because you know you can do better after that."

Assuming you relentlessly push forward.

Lightning coaches

Name Seasons Record

Terry Crisp 1992-97 142-204-45

Rick Paterson+ 1997 0-6-0

Jacques Demers 1997-99 34-96-17

Steve Ludzik 1999-2001 31-67-23

John Tortorella 2001-08 239-222-74

Barry Melrose 2008 5-7-4

Rick Tocchet* 2008-10 53-69-26

+interim

* began as an interim

Tampa Bay Lightning hires Guy Boucher as coach 06/10/10 [Last modified: Friday, June 11, 2010 7:53am]
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