Boucher latest McGill alumnus to join NHL coaching ranks

Guy Boucher
Guy Boucher

By Jim Hynes

McGill grad and former Redmen captain Guy Boucher has been named the head coach of the National Hockey League’s Tampa Bay Lightning. Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman announced the appointment, making Boucher the seventh head coach in team history, yesterday.

Boucher becomes the fifth former Redmen player to coach in hockey’s top league, a list that includes current NHL coaches Mike Babcock (BE’86), the bench boss of the Detroit Red Wings, and Jamie Kompon (BEd’89), an assistant with the Los Angeles Kings.

A native of Notre-Dame-du-Lac, Que., who was raised in the Montreal suburb of Roxboro, the 38-year old Boucher began his coaching career at McGill, where he starred with the Redmen from 1991 to 1995. He graduated with an arts degree (majoring in history and environmental biology), which he followed with an engineering degree.

During his four seasons with the Redmen, Boucher, a centre, scored 71 goals and 183 points in 141 games. A two-time league all-star, he won the Guy Lafleur trophy in 1993, was voted Team MVP in 1994 and served as team captain in 1995.

After graduating from McGill, Boucher played pro hockey in France, where he led Viry-Chatillon to a 1996 championship in the French Elite League. He then returned tothe Redmen as an assistant coach while pursuing a master’s degree in sports psychology from the Université de Montréal.

Boucher was hired by the Montreal Canadiens last June to coach the organization’s American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate Hamilton Bulldogs after spending the better part of the previous 12 years in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, including 2006-09 as head coach of the Voltigeurs de Drummondville.

Prior to his tenure in Drummondville, Boucher was an assistant coach with the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies (1997-2000) under Jean Pronovost and was with the Rimouski Oceanic (2003-2006), where he served under coaches Donald Dufresne and Doris Labonte, a team that featured future NHL star Sydney Crosby. Boucher left the QMJHL for two seasons (2000-02), to be at the helm of the Lac St. Louis Lions in the Midget AAA league.

Earlier this month, Boucher won the Louis A.R. Pieri Memorial Award as the most outstanding coach in the AHL for the 2009-2010 season. He became the fourth head coach in AHL history to win at least 50 games as a rookie and guided Hamilton to a North Division championship the second-best record in the AHL (51-17-3-7).

With files from Earl Zukerman, McGill Athletics & Recreation