Boucher’s beliefs lead to positive results

by Lindsay Kramer ||

boucher-ham_200.jpgThree options whirl through Guy Boucher’s mind the first thing every morning.

"I really believe we decide how we feel. You can get better today, you can stay the same, or you can get worse," he said. "I choose to get better."

Monday was a great day for that ambition. Boucher signed the deal that made him the new head coach of the Hamilton Bulldogs, held a press conference in that city, flew to Montreal for another meet-and-greet there and then got a ring for his role as assistant coach on Canada’s gold medal-winning World Junior Championships team in a ceremony at the Bell Centre that night.

Now that’s a full day of making things happen.

"It’s all good. If you are a coach and you don’t have (a lot of energy), you are in trouble," Boucher said. "I really believe the two cornerstones of success are enthusiasm and work ethic. I’m ready to go."

And off Boucher has gone, at age 37, landing his first AHL job. He comes to the position following three seasons as head coach of the QMJHL’s Drummondville Voltigeurs. Last year, he led his team to the league’s regular-season and playoff championships, as well as a berth in the Memorial Cup. His effort landed him the Paul Dumont Trophy as the QMJHL’s Personality of the Year, an award given for contributions raising the profile of the league on and off the ice.

That sort of palpable energy comes through quickly in conversations with Boucher.

"The one thing (players) always say is I’m able to go get the person, find out what the person is about," he said. "The motivation they have is personal. But the thing you can do is find out what their motivations are and activate them. The players find out I believe in them. I love to teach and I love to see people attain their goals. People do great things if they feel great about themselves."

Boucher takes over for interim Bulldogs coach Ron Wilson and the man Wilson replaced, Don Lever, who was called up to the Canadiens to serve as an assistant late in the season. Montreal declined to pick up the options on both Wilson and Lever.

It was a stunning turnaround for Lever, who on one day thought he was on solid footing while interviewing for an assistant’s position in Montreal and a couple of days later was kicked out of the organization all together.

"I didn’t think it would come to this, but nothing is 100 percent," said Lever, who took the Bulldogs to the Calder Cup in 2006-07. "I’m not bitter, because this is the nature of the business. It took a while to play out, but there’s nothing much I can do. I wish it would have been quicker."

Lever, who compiled a 153-27-8-17 record in four seasons with the Bulldogs, said he will be tossing his name into the pool for whatever AHL and NHL jobs remain open.

"Any job will do," Lever said. "You put your name in and hope for the best."

Draft trades shuffle AHL prospects

A handful of top AHL players were thrust into the role of bargaining chip and as a result got fresh starts as parts of NHL Draft-related trades.

The Kings acquired a third-round pick in the 2010 Draft from the New York Rangers in exchange for center Brian Boyle. Boyle finished second in scoring among AHL rookies during the 2007-08 season with 62 points in 70 games for Manchester but dropped off to 21 points in 42 games with the Monarchs in 2008-09.

heshkaPhoenix picked up defenseman Sami Lepisto from Washington in exchange for a fifth-round choice in the 2010 Draft, and defenseman Shaun Heshka from the Vancouver Canucks in exchange for their seventh-round choice in the 2009 Draft.

Lepisto, 24, appeared in 70 games with Hershey last season where he registered four goals and 38 assists to lead all Bears defensemen in scoring.

Heshka, 23, registered 26 points and a plus-17 rating in 77 games with Manitoba. He ranked second on the team in points among defenseman and tied for third on the team in plus-minus. He also collected five assists in 22 playoff games, helping Manitoba advance to the Calder Cup final before losing to Lepisto’s Bears.

"Obviously, it’s a better opportunity for me to play in the NHL," Heshka told the Winnipeg Sun. "Vancouver has a lot of good defensemen and Phoenix doesn’t have the same depth as Vancouver does. I haven’t gotten a shot in the NHL with Vancouver in three years and that’s the main goal."

Forwards Ryan Dingle and Luca Sbisa were part of the swap that brought defenseman Chris Pronger to Philadelphia from Anaheim. Dingle, 25, comes to the Flyers organization after playing 70 games with the Iowa Chops in 2008-09, scoring 11 goals and adding 7 assists.

Sbisa, a first-round pick by the Flyers in 2008, went to the Ducks. He recorded a goal and an assist in two appearances with the Phantoms in 2008-09

Laperriere latches on with Monsters

As much as Hall of Famer Jacques Laperriere helped his son, Dan, become a very good hockey player, Dan thinks his bloodlines will make him an even better coach.

Jacques and Dan used to watch games together on television, with dad dissecting nuances of the game that were otherwise missed. Dan might not have had the physical skills of the Montreal legend, but his game sense was sharpened at an early age.

"Every time we sat down and watched a hockey game, a comment here or there during a game makes a difference," Dan said. "You learn a lot from that, for sure. Hockey is what I know. Eventually, after playing I knew I was going to keep in touch with the game."

Colorado and Lake Erie are giving him his first chance at an afterlife in the AHL.

The Avalanche last week named Laperriere, 40, assistant coach of the Monsters. He joins the team after working as assistant coach of the Central Hockey League’s Arizona Sundogs last year.

Laperriere, a blueliner, appeared in 48 NHL games over four seasons with St. Louis and Ottawa, totaling two goals and five assists. He capped off his 16-year professional career by leading the Sundogs to the CHL title as a player-assistant coach in 2007-08.

His ties to the Colorado organization go back a ways. He was a teammate of Eric Lacroix, now the Avalanche’s director of hockey operations, at St. Lawrence University. And Lacroix used to own the Sundogs and was the one who brought him to that team.

"I played the game for a long time. I’m passionate about it. I believe I can come in and guide the younger players," Laperriere said. "I understand players because I just left the game. Now, it’s a matter of them understanding me."

In other league personnel news, AHL executive vice president of hockey operations Jim Mill has been named assistant to the general manager of the Minnesota Wild. Mill’s duties will include serving as general manager of the Houston Aeros, the Wild’s AHL affiliate.

parenteau-allstar_200.jpgParenteau’s new contract

Yet another productive minor-league season allowed Hartford forward P.A. Parenteau to bring a load of chips to the bargaining table this summer. He got the chance to cash them in even sooner than he hoped.

Parenteau, 26, turned in 29 goals and 49 assists in 74 games for the Wolf Pack last season. He wanted to enter free agency and turn that effort into the first one-way contract of his career. But before Parenteau even hit the market, New York put exactly that type of offer in front of him.

Parenteau’s response: why wait? So he agreed to the pact and is staying with the Rangers.

"Right away when the season was over, they started talking with my agent," Parenteau said. "I was, ‘all right, let’s do it.’ I guess I finally got rewarded a little bit, but I won’t take anything for granted."

Parenteau is too wary to let that happen. He has been one of the AHL’s most consistent scorers the past few years, and in 2007-08 he tossed in 81 points in 75 games for Hartford. But in his two seasons in the organization he has yet to earn his first game in New York.

"They are going to have to keep me up there. That’s how I’m going to approach it," Parenteau said. "They know what I can do. As a hockey player, you have to be confident, show people you know what you want. I’m going to go to New York knowing what I want."