Tampa Bay hope lightning strikes twice with Boucher

The National Hockey League’s Tampa Bay Lightning have hired Guy Boucher from the Hamilton Bulldogs to be their new head coach.

Boucher joined the Bulldogs in June 2009 and finished his first professional season this past year, guiding Hamilton to a Western Conference regular season championship and the second-best regular season record in the entire American Hockey League at 52-17-3-8 (115 points). In the 2010 Calder Cup playoffs, Boucher led the ‘Dogs to the Western Conference finals where the club lost in Game 7 to the Texas Stars.

Hamilton set over 60 franchise and league records last season under Boucher, including the franchise records for most wins and points in the regular season and the AHL record for most points earned on the road in the regular season (60). Boucher was the recipient of the Louis A.R. Pieri Memorial Award as the league’s outstanding coach for the season.

“It’s a bitter-sweet day for our organization,” said Hamilton Bulldogs Owner and Chairman Michael Andlauer. “We are losing a valued member of our family. Not only is Guy an outstanding coach and leader, he is also a wonderful person, with great character, a tremendous amount of passion, drive and a thirst for always improving.”

“I am very proud of what our team accomplished with Guy at the helm both on the ice and off the ice this year, and am equally proud that yet another Bulldog is able to realize his dream of graduating to the NHL. I’d like to congratulate and thank Guy for his contributions this season and wish Guy, Marsha and their three wonderful children all the best with their new family in Tampa Bay.”

The 38-year-old native of Notre-Dame-du-Lac, Quebec, Boucher becomes the youngest head coach in the NHL. Before joining the Montreal organization last year, he spent the better part of the previous 12 years in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

Boucher was an assistant coach for the gold-medal-winning Canadians at the 2009 World Junior Championships and the 2008 World U-18 Championships. A graduate of McGill University, he was the fourth head coach in AHL history to win at least 50 games in his first full pro campaign.

A replacement for Boucher has yet to be named.