Stanley Cup keeper Mike Bolt hands the trophy to Kings Coach Darryl Sutter… (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles…)
On the day most NHL players were due to report to training camp, Kings Coach Darryl Sutter was helping with the harvest at his farm in Alberta, Canada, and Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau was "doing a little bit of nothing."
The lockout imposed by the NHL on Sept. 15 has postponed the start of training camps, and exhibition games have been canceled through Sept. 30. There were no labor negotiations between the league and the players union on Friday, though the two sides met in Alberta to dispute the legality of the lockout.
The NHL Players' Assn. contended before the Alberta Labor Relations Board that the lockout is illegal under provincial laws, but the NHL argued that all 30 teams must operate under the same rules and that those rules are based on U.S. labor laws. No decision in the matter was made on Friday.
The delay in opening camp could be especially inconvenient for Sutter and Boudreau because neither has had a training camp with his current team. Boudreau was fired by the Washington Capitals but came to Anaheim to replace Randy Carlyle last Nov. 30; Sutter, who was on the farm and out of coaching, took over for Terry Murray on Dec. 20.
"As a coach, your first training camp is something you look forward to because you're getting to know people," Boudreau said Friday. "I don't know any of the guys that were in the minor leagues. You get reports but you want to see for yourself."
During the last lockout, Boudreau had plenty to do: He was coaching the Kings' American Hockey League affiliate in Manchester, N.H. "It's great because if you're a minor-league coach, you get your players right away," he said, meaning he didn't have to wait for players to go through camp and be assigned to Manchester by the parent Kings.
"This feels really odd to me because I've never gone through this before. It's the first time in 37 years as a player and coach I haven’t started at this time of year."
In the meantime, Boudreau said, he and his coaches have been reporting for work every day and have been preparing in order to be ready for whenever the labor dispute is settled. He said they've come up with plans in case camp is cut to five days, seven days or 14 days and have discussed inviting fewer players if camp is shortened significantly. He said he would talk to General Manager Bob Murray next week about whether he might spend time watching the Ducks' minor-league camp in Norfolk, Va.
"I've seen more video this summer than ever," he said.
But having time to himself hasn't been entirely bad.
Boudreau said it gave him and his family time to settle into their new home in Anaheim Hills and it has given him the chance to spend a lot of time with his 14-year-old son, Brady, who plays high school hockey for Orange Lutheran.
"I've already been to more of his practices than last year," Boudreau said. "I get to talk to him about hockey when we're sitting in the car, and it brings back a lot of good memories of my dad."
Sutter said via email that he has been spending long hours in the fields since he returned home last weekend. I’m hoping to catch up with him on Saturday to find out what he's doing and what his plans are.