Ben Boudreau has worked for a Calder Cup-winning coach in Robbie Ftorek, a Memorial Cup-winning coach in Eric Veilleux, Southern Professional Hockey League Cup-winning coaches Gary Graham and Rod Aldoff, and a longtime NHL defenseman in Robert Dirk.
“Those are relationships you create over a lifetime of being in the business,” said Boudreau, who spent the last two seasons as the Komets' top assistant coach to Graham.
Oh, and just a phone call away for Boudreau is always his father, Bruce, who has coached ECHL and American Hockey League champions, was the NHL's 2008 Coach of the Year and is now behind the bench of the Minnesota Wild.
“The one thing you can't do is try to be somebody else,” said Ben Boudreau, the only publicly known candidate to replace Graham, who was fired Monday. “You've got to stay true to who you are and what you believe in. As long as my plan is there and I'm prepared, that's my biggest strength. I feel confident that if they want to go with me, then I'll be more prepared and hungrier than the next person.”
Since the Franke family bought the Komets in 1990, they've been coached to six championships – five by Al Sims and one by Greg Puhalski – yet none of their hires, including Bruce Boudreau, Dave Farrish, John Torchetti, Grant Sonier, Dave Allison and Pat Bingham, came without previous head-coaching experience.
Ben Boudreau, 34, would be a first in that respect.
“That wouldn't be a problem at all. I'm the most confident person that you're going to meet, who knows what direction they want to go and who's capable,” Boudreau said. “I've worked under (a lot of) different coaches and I'm not here to model myself after any single one.
“The one thing I've always believed in and I've always been told is: 'There's no right way to coach a game and there's no wrong way. There's only the way your coach wants you to play.' Every (player) has played different systems. If you can get the 18 guys to buy in to what the coach is saying, whatever system you've got is going to work. ... I've been able to get a lot out of guys in certain positions that normally you wouldn't see a lot out of.”
Boudreau has spent five ECHL seasons as an assistant coach with Bakersfield, Norfolk and Fort Wayne. Under Graham, he had a hand in recruiting players, broke down video and scouted opponents, was in charge of defensemen during games and was heavily involved in special teams, particularly the power play. He knows he shares responsibility in this tumultuous season, which ended with a first-round loss to the Toledo Walleye.
“Just to wash your hands and say you didn't have a part in it would be pretty ignorant,” he said.
It's unknown who the other potential candidates for the Komets' job are, though former Fort Wayne player/assistant Bruce Ramsay can be crossed off the list since he was hired by the Wichita Thunder on Wednesday.
Boudreau, who hasn't yet formally interviewed for the head job, said it's hard to be specific on his coaching philosophy because one has to tailor his style to the roster. He stressed success begins with great goaltending; “no matter what you do, you start between the pipes and work your way out.” He added that work ethic comes from the top down.
“The one thing I know is we wouldn't be unprepared. We'd have a clear and concise game plan. That's something I've learned in the past: You need to make sure everybody is on the same page and understands their role,” Boudreau said.