(photo by Brian Murphy)
Even before the Washington Redskins put together this current three-game winning streak, their games have become something of a trendy destination for celebrities big and small.
On a weekly basis it seems, people ranging from ‘Skins fans like Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Wale to casual observers like Willie Robertson from Duck Dynasty and Paul Teutul, Jr. from Orange County Choppers randomly appear either on the sidelines or in a luxury box. That, of course, has to do with franchise quarterback Robert Griffin III — the hottest name in sports today.
Heading into Washington’s Monday Night Football match-up with the New York Giants at FedEx Field, I caught wind of a rumor that NBA stars like Kevin Durant, Amare Stoudemire and Deron Williams were going to be in attendance. With that in mind, I headed down to the field a little earlier than usual in hopes of spotting these three oversized gentlemen.
While they never showed up on sidelines pregame, I did run into a friendly face — former Washington Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau. Although he’s moved on to Anaheim, Boudreau still holds a special place in the hearts of plenty of local fans for everything his Capitals were able to accomplish during his brief time in D.C.
With that in mind, I tracked down the man affectionately known as Gabby to see how he’s doing these days. Here’s a transcript of our conversation:
What brings you to town tonight?
“I just happened to be in the area and delayed my trip one more day and got a chance to see them play, which is really exciting,” Boudreau said.
This isn’t the first time you’ve been spotted at a Redskins game, but it’s probably been a little while since the last time you took in a game here, right?
“I was out to every preseason game they played here last year,” he said. “And I was here for the home opener last year as well. But since then … yeah, it’s been a while.”
Well, it’s pretty safe to say this Redskins team has had some dramatic changes since the last time you saw them in person. What do you think of the team they’ve assembled these days?
“They’ve got a good team,” Boudreau said. “They could easily be 7-4 instead of 5-6. I think this is a big game, an exciting game and a real relevant game and I’m betting that they’re going to be good* tonight.”
*Good call, Bruce.
Obviously the talk of the town these days is a talented youngster by the name of Robert Griffin III. During your time in Washington, you had the pleasure of coaching another gifted player, so I’m curious — does watching this rookie quarterback remind you of your time with a certain Russian forward?
“He reminds me of a young hockey player with that same level of enthusiasm when he was 18 or 19 years old. That’s for sure,” Boudreau said, obviously referencing Alex Ovechkin. “I hope he does to football what Alex did to hockey in this town.”
Is it bittersweet for you on a personal level whenever you make the trip back to the nation’s capital?
“No, I love Washington,” he said. “It’s the best place I ever lived. I love the people and I made many, many, many friends. If I get a chance to come back, I always do.”
Obviously you’d rather be coaching hockey right now, but if this lockout doesn’t get resolve at some point in the near future should we find you a job here with the Redskins?
(Laughs.) “Well, [special teams coach] Danny Smith is a good friend of mine, so I’ll be begging to be the assistant to the assistant or a ball carrier or something,” Boudreau said. “I’ve already asked if I could carry the cable around for one of these cameras, but that hasn’t worked out yet.”
Nothing against current Caps coach Adam Oates, who hasn’t even had a chance to prove to the local fanbase if he’s any good or not so we shouldn’t rush to judgment on him, but I still can’t help but feel it’s a shame that Boudreau isn’t still prominently involved in this town.
He was a loveable character with an oversized personality who ushered in one of the most entertaining eras of professional hockey in Capitals history. It’s a damn shame things ended up the way they did, which is why I still have no trouble rooting for Boudreau to be successful wherever he goes — whether it’s with the Ducks in Anaheim or being the assistant to the assistant coach with the Redskins.