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Exclusive: Bruce Boudreau on his final days with Canucks and what comes next

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Bruce Boudreau has been around long enough to know what was coming.

When the outside noise was that loud, when insiders were basically announcing that Rick Tocchet was going to be the incoming Canucks coach, when they were even naming Tocchet’s starting date before the outgoing coach had been fired, Boudreau knew it was more than likely true.

That’s why Boudreau coached Saturday’s Canucks game against the Oilers like it would be his last. That’s why he welled up after the morning skate the day before. That’s why he looked so beaten down in the third period and so stressed on that coach’s challenge that ultimately overturned an Oilers goal. That’s why he stayed on the bench after the final horn and looked around Rogers Arena with tears in his eyes, saluting the fans who were saluting him.

And that’s why he booked a flight home for Monday night with his wife of 28 years, Crystal, a week and a half ago.

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As part of his contract with the Canucks, Boudreau and his family members receive 10 free plane tickets to and from their home in Hershey, Pa. As the rumblings grew, the Boudreaus booked one-way tickets home. After packing up every morsel of their downtown Vancouver condo the past few days, Bruce and Crystal will board a red-eye for Seattle with a connection to Harrisburg, Pa., through Atlanta.

“Better be safe than sorry, I guess,” Boudreau, chuckling, said Monday in an exclusive 45-minute interview with The Athletic. “We figured we could always change it. Unfortunately, we won’t have to. It’ll be a long day and night of flying, but we’ll be home at noon (Tuesday).”

Boudreau did have one pretty big condition for speaking on the record Monday: He wanted to take the high road. He didn’t want to pile on the mountain of criticism the Canucks have received for how this played out.

There would be no ripping of Jim Rutherford or Patrik Allvin, no pissing and moaning that he was victimized or humiliated.

He made that clear when asked even about the timing of his firing. Instead of just dismissing him after Saturday’s game, Boudreau was left to languish during one more sleepless night and simply told Saturday night to report with the rest of the coaching staff to a meeting with the Canucks’ brass at 9:30 Sunday morning.

“I enjoyed my time in Vancouver and am sad to see it end, but there’s no use rehashing everything,” Boudreau said. “I’ll just say it’s been difficult. It was difficult not knowing and thinking you’re gonna get let go and nobody telling you anything. Nobody really had to tell me, but with just the speculation and the noise outside and the reporters asking every day and reading articles about being a lame-duck coach and that it was just a matter of time, those were the things that were difficult.

“But, I mean, no one had to come right out and say, ‘You’re gonna lose your job,’ or that this was the time you’re going to lose it. I think I’m smart enough to look around me and see what was going on.”

But, as Canucks veteran defenseman Luke Schenn said over the weekend, Boudreau did his best to walk into the locker room every day with the same energy and the same upbeat style that has made him beloved with so many players, media members and fans in his many coaching stops.

“The thing that kept driving me was that you’ve got to go to work, do your job, do it the same way and with the same passion every day,” Boudreau said. “And since I’ve always been a dreamer and a believer, I believed that, ‘OK, if we could just sneak it out, something good can happen.’ And so even though in the back of my mind you knew that something was imminent, you never wanted to believe it fully. So you just worked harder and the whole coaching staff worked so hard in trying to maybe figure out that if we could maybe have won four or five in a row or something like that, then maybe the noise would slow down a little bit. But it never happened.”

That’s why Boudreau was so proud of his players during that final game Saturday night. They emptied the tank for him in that third period. The Canucks had been successful this season in overtime and shootouts (7-3), so he thought the stars were lining up when the Oilers missed an open net and he was successful during the coach’s challenge to keep the deficit at one. And the Canucks came close to forcing overtime before an Edmonton empty-netter sealed the deal.

“All these things were adding up that I felt this is gonna be a storybook ending. But I guess we ripped out the last few pages,” Boudreau said.

Asked about the stress on his face during the third, Boudreau said, “I was pretty sure that it was my last period. Nobody had said anything, but in my heart, I was pretty sure. And then I started thinking that ‘OK, if it’s my last period, is this my last time I’m going to be behind the bench of somewhere that I just love being? Is this the last time I’m going to be in front of 18,000 people trying to win with a group?

“It was sort of catching up to me a little bit. This was my 48th year of professional hockey. Sometimes you start to reflect on: What are you doing? What’s gonna happen next? And then you’ve still got to stay in the moment because we were only down 3-2. And we were really playing hard in the third period. And I thought we were going to tie it up for sure. So to keep those thoughts away from the other thoughts was a little bit difficult sometimes. Yeah, it was a hard game to coach.”

In 103 games, Boudreau’s .549 points percentage (50-40-13) ranks fourth in Canucks history. For coaches with 500 or more regular-season games, his .626 points percentage ranks fourth in NHL history.

He felt the Canucks became a “really, really good team” and got the “crowd base into it” by the end of last season. This season was a chore, but he felt the Canucks were making strides until a team that was one win above .500 on Dec. 27 lost 10 of its next 12 games.

He’ll never forget the way his tenure came to an end, but he’s looking at the bright side.

“Very rarely do coaches in any sport get a chance to say goodbye to their players,” Boudreau said. “I mean, usually you get fired, it’s on a day off or it’s after the game and the players have gone home by then. So for me to be able to walk in there and thank them for what they did for me and the effort they gave was quite an experience to have. And then to see the emotion, I’ve never seen anything like it. All of us, almost all the players and me, were crying in the room. It was crazy. Like, I mean, you’d have to see it to believe it because it’s hard to believe it just saying it.”

One high-profile player came into Boudreau’s office and was crying uncontrollably and audibly as he hugged him in front of assistants. On Sunday, Boudreau got a slew of texts from his players, including “the most beautiful text” from sometimes-maligned J.T. Miller.

Before his meeting Sunday morning, Boudreau called three of his four children. His son Andy, 33, had already flown to Vancouver from Calgary to spend the weekend with him. Boudreau called 40-year-old Kasey, 36-year-old Ben and 23-year-old Brady to let them know that it would finally be official soon.

“I wanted them to know before everyone else knew,” Boudreau said. “They’ve all been around long enough, whether it’s Crystal or the kids, that they always think when I’m fired that, ‘Dad’s gonna just go somewhere else.’ They hate it when it happens because they’re in my corner all the time, but I’d been warning them.

“Like me, they hoped something miraculous would happen to change it.”

When Boudreau was fired on Valentine’s Day 2020 by the Wild, he told The Athletic how he was blindsided. He was in the last year of his deal, but when he survived early-season rumors, his radar was down. Then, too, he didn’t know if he’d get another chance to coach again.

As it turned out, Boudreau got that chance to coach his 11th hockey team and fourth in the NHL since 1990-91. But now he’s three years older at 68. So while he hopes this isn’t it, he knows it very well could be.

“That was one of the reasons behind the bench that I was getting emotional,” Boudreau said. “Like, if you asked me, I’m in better condition to coach now than I was three years ago. That was before I had two replacements of the knees and my body was falling apart. Now I’m fine. And I feel reinvigorated. I had the energy to go out every day, and we were at the office every day between 6 and 6:30, every morning, and would stay to all hours. I don’t want to sit back on the couch and just relax.

“I love this. This is what gives you meaning when you get a chance to go to work every day and coach in the National Hockey League. The biggest thing probably is I thought I could communicate well enough with the young player still. I’ve always gotten along well with the players. But the communication, I thought, was really good. With all that being said, if it was ever offered to me again, I would jump at the chance. I’ve been doing it for almost 30 years, and I would do it forever.”

In the meantime, Boudreau expects to return to the television screen soon.

He’s already been offered an interview on Sportsnet’s “Hockey Night in Canada” this Saturday. He’s already been offered a chance to be on the panel for “TSN TradeCentre” on March 3. He’s already talked to NHL Network about returning to his previous post as a studio analyst. And he’s already done a SiriusXM interview with Gord Stellick and Scott Laughlin and hopes to return to the show once a week soon.

Mostly, he wanted to thank the fans in Vancouver who fell for the loveable character and treated him so kindly the past 13 ½ months.

“The one thing about coaching in Canada, more than any other place — and this includes Minnesota, as much as I love Minnesota and the people there who watch the game and know the game there — it is like a religion up here,” Boudreau said. “I’ve never experienced anything like it. And I loved it. I loved the fact that everybody knew what you were doing. You either fear it or you embrace it. And I embraced it.

“I just loved talking on the street. You go to a restaurant, anything, and people would come up to you and talk hockey. And when you lost, they were displeased and maybe throw the jersey on the ice. But when you won, they were the biggest fans going. If this is the last time, what a great experience.

“All coaches should get the opportunity to visit the threshold of being under the microscope of coaching in Canada.”

Boudreau said Tocchet, who previously coached in Tampa Bay and Arizona, will learn that quickly.

And by the way, Boudreau holds no ill will for Tocchet and wishes him well.

Boudreau gets it. When a coach is fired, usually the next coach is waiting in the wings. Heck, when Boudreau took over the Ducks, he was in Anaheim while Randy Carlyle unknowingly was coaching his final game.

This is the way it works in pro sports.

It’s just not usually as public and as rumored as Tocchet’s arrival was.

“Unless it’s an interim taking over, I think anybody that gets fired — anybody — the guy that’s replacing him knows well beforehand because they’ve had to negotiate, they’ve had to do all of these things,” Boudreau said. “With Anaheim, when I got the call, and they flew me out, I mean, the Ducks were playing that night, and (Bob Murray) had to go in and fire Randy after the game. I didn’t feel comfortable with that because Randy is a friend of mine and I played with him. But that’s the business. And whether it was Rick or whether it would have been (Boudreau’s best friend) John Anderson taking my job, it doesn’t really matter. It’s always the same.

“So I’m not mad at Rick Tocchet at all. At all. And I hope nobody holds this against him. This is the way it’s done. I mean, this is a great opportunity for him. I think he’ll do great. I mean, this is a hockey town. They just want to win. And he’s got a bunch of passionate players to coach with big, big hearts.”

Boudreau certainly learned that during those emotional moments behind closed doors after what actually did turn out to be his last game Saturday night.

(Top photo: Jeff Vinnick / NHLI via Getty Images)

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A Look At Today’s Best Live Dealer Online Casino Games

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Online Casino Games

Some of the most popular games you can play at fully licensed online casinos today are live dealer games, such as Live Dealer Roulette, Live Dealer Blackjack, TV Game Show-themed live dealer games, and Live Dealer Slots. Here is a closer look at some of the best live dealer games from three leading software providers – Evolution Gaming, Pragmatic Play, and OnAir Entertainment.

All of these state-of-the-art live dealer games are now available to play in the real money mode at a fully licensed online casino called Lucky Spins Canada, which is free to sign up to and is currently offering all new Canadian players up to 500 FREE SPINS for Play’n GO’s iconic Book of Dead online slot, plus a 100% matching deposit bonus worth up to C$500.

Top 10 Live Dealer Games in the Spotlight

Here are ten of the best live dealer casino games that you must check out. These games have wide betting ranges that cater to low rollers and high rollers alike (and pretty much all other betting ranges in between low rollers and high rollers), and you can often play one round/hand/spin from as little as C$0.10 to C$0.50 up to C$1,000.00 or more.

The top ten live dealer games from Evolution Gaming, Pragmatic Play, OnAir Entertainment, Betgames.tv, Ezugi, and eBET that you must check out include the following mixture of live table & card games, live slots, and television game show live dealer games:

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  • Live PowerUp Roulette from Pragmatic Play
  • Live Andar Bahar from Ezugi
  • Live Teen Patti from Ezugi
  • Live XXXtreme Lightning Roulette from Evolution Gaming
  • Live Crazy Coin Flip from Evolution Gaming
  • MONOPOLY Live from Evolution Gaming
  • Live Wheel of Fortune from Betgames.tv
  • Live Airwave Roulette from OnAir Entertainment
  • Live Black Sports Arena from OnAir Entertainment
  • Bet On Poker Live from Betgames.tv

How old do I have to be to play live casino games?

To play live dealer games at online casinos, such as Lucky Spins, you generally need to be at least 18 years old. However, always check because, in some regions where online gambling is legal, it could be 21 or 20 years old.

What devices can I play live dealer games from?

You can play live dealer games from all of the providers mentioned above using either a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or desktop computer. Just make sure that it has decent Wi-Fi or internet connectivity. Most games can be launched instantly in your web browser, plus you also generally have the option to download and install a free casino app directly onto your smartphone or tablet and then play from within the secure app.

What to remember when playing for real money

When playing for real money, don’t forget to set deposit limits where possible. Don’t ever chase your losses because it may result in you losing even more money, and don’t gamble just for the sake of it. Try and have fun, and always remember to gamble responsibly. Gambling is meant to be fun, so if you aren’t having fun anymore, it might be a good idea to take a break from gambling for a while.

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Gambling in Ireland vs. Canada

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Regulation of Online Gambling in Ontario: The Fight Against Black-Market Operators Continues

Gambling has traditionally played a significant role in Irish society. Naturally, the advancement of technology has changed how Irish gamblers conduct their business. Because of cell phones, placing bets is now simpler than ever (You could check here for a few trustworthy ones). However, Irish individuals must be cognizant of the country’s licensing laws.

Irish gamers can wager on bingo, lotteries, casino games, poker, sports, and more about the regulated and licensed gambling websites, making internet gambling in Ireland a multi-million-dollar business. This is not so dissimilar from the humongous gambling industry in Canada. For the past couple of years, gambling practices have been on the rise in Canada. So in today’s article, we’ll be looking at how gambling has fared in Ireland vs. Canada.

 

Ireland

According to the most recent statistics from Ireland from 2022, approximately half of the Irish population (49%) partakes in gambling, while its estimated prevalence for gambling addiction is 0.3%, meaning there are 12,000 problem gamblers in Ireland. Since only a small percentage of those with an issue with betting seek treatment, there is a need to try and understand Irish gambling behavior and treatment adoption.

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According to industry statistics, Irish gamblers ended up losing over €1.36 billion the year before last, or around €300 on average for every person, ranking them as the fourth-largest gamblers throughout the EU. According to industry researchers H2 Gambling Capital, Ireland places 14th internationally for the biggest median gambling losses, comfortably ahead of the UK but behind Sweden (€325 per adult), Malta (€334), and Finland (€342).

Revenue rose €51.9 million in conventional betting duty revenues and €40.6 million in online betting receipts in 2019, almost twice as much as the corresponding amounts from the preceding year ($28.9 million & €21.7 million, respectively). Sports betting is the most well-liked online form of gambling, comprising over 41% of the industry and bringing in €10 billion in 2019, claims the European Gaming and Betting Association.

Instead of using desktop computers, over 44% of all internet wagers are placed from a phone or tablet. By 2025, it is anticipated that approximately 6 out of 10 online wagers will be placed using mobile devices. Despite representing just 1.1% of the total population, Ireland generates 2.6% of Europe’s online gambling market in terms of revenue, according to the H2 data.

 

 

Canada

Like many other nations, Canada has a large gambling industry. The majority of gamblers don’t suffer any consequences, but a small percentage will. The number of gambling options in Canada has grown over the years, and new gambling innovations like online poker & sports betting have increased the significance of more thorough and ongoing oversight.

A study used information from the Canadian Community Health Survey (CCHS) to assess gambling and gambling-related issues among adults aged 15 and over. Those who may be at risk of developing a problem with gambling are identified using a Problem Gambling Index. This evaluates problem gambling behavior and the effects of that behavior on the individual or others.

Of the 18.9 million Canadians aged 15 and over, nearly two-thirds (64.5%) reported betting in the previous year, & 1.6% of those gamblers were exposed to a substantial risk of gambling-related issues. Men were more prone than women to file gambling in the previous year across all age categories. Additionally, men were more likely to have a relatively high risk of developing gambling-related issues.

Though they were more prone to developing gambling problems, people in lower social households were less inclined to wager than those of relatively high-earning households.

 

For instance,

 

  • 1% of Canadians at significantly higher risk for gambling issues were among the 71.5% of those living in higher-earning households who reported betting in the last year.
  • 8% of people from low-income families gambled in the preceding year, and 2.7% of them were at moderate to high risk for developing gambling addictions.

 

The likelihood of gambling-related issues rose with the quantity of casino games played.

In the multivariate analyses, the majority of factors, such as engaging in various gambling activities, living single (or separated or divorced), being unmarried, and possessing poor or fair mental well-being, remained independently related to gambling problems.

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Canada Soccer has hit the big time with coach John Herdman

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John Herdman, Head Coach of Canada, reacts during a press conference at the Main Media Center on Nov. 30, during the World Cup in Doha, Qatar.Mohamed Farag/Getty Images

In every team’s final news conference at a World Cup, it’s tradition to ask the head coach if he plans to stick around.

Someone threw it up at Canadian national men’s coach John Herdman following this country’s measured success in Qatar.

Herdman gave a meandering answer of 1 minute 15 seconds that ended this way: “[Belgian assistant coach] Thierry Henry told me this team played [Belgium] off the park. I’ll take that. Because if that’s our foundation? We’ve got a great four years ahead, and I can’t wait to get after it.”

Though that reply didn’t contain the crucial word, people took it for a “yes.” Because what else would it be?

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Few coaches in the world have a gig this sweet. Herdman is such a big fish in Canada’s soccer pond that he essentially runs the program. He’s got a guaranteed spotlight in the next World Cup, which Canada will be in by virtue of being a co-host. He’s still young (47), says he loves living here and is signed for the long term.

Maybe he’d like to coach at a sexier program in Europe. Wouldn’t anyone in his position?

But with that caveat, from the outside looking in, Canada is a great job. It wasn’t always, but Herdman (with a major assist from Alphonso Davies’s parents) turned it into one.

Which makes it curious that reports out of New Zealand on Wednesday claimed that Herdman was about to be appointed the coach of that country’s men’s national team.

In a report from the NewsHub network, Herdman was described as “the clear top pick” for the job. To hear this story tell it, it was just a matter of fussing with details.

Canada is the 53rd-ranked team in the world and on the rise. New Zealand is 105th and just barely treading water. New Zealand is Canada 10 years ago, and not in a fun, preinflation sort of way.

A complicating factor – Herdman’s son, Jay, plays for New Zealand’s under-19 national team. An even more complicated one – money. Some people love their job, but everyone loves money.

That said, judged from the perspective of social capital, the New Zealand job is not a promotion. It’s not even a lateral move. It’s trading the big leagues for the bush leagues.

So what’s going on? Does Herdman want out of Canada? And if so, why? Does he want more money? Is he a secret Lord of the Rings superfan?

This is what happens when a story like this is loosed into the world and not recaptured immediately – people begin to wonder all sorts of fantastical things.

As usual, whenever a story about it is breaking, Canada Soccer was caught in a blank stare on Wednesday morning. It wasn’t until early afternoon that an official denial was put together.

Three people commented in that statement – Herdman, Canada Soccer general secretary Earl Cochrane and Canada Soccer president Nick Bontis.

Bontis affirmed the “full confidence” of the board in Herdman, which is weird. He just took Canada to its first World Cup in 40 years. Why wouldn’t the board have confidence in him?

Cochrane noted first and foremost that Herdman is under contract until after the 2026 World Cup, which is also weird. That’s not news.

Herdman was unequivocal: “I’m not going anywhere.” But he also felt the need to mention that he’s got “several offers” recently, including one from New Zealand, which is super weird. If you’re happy where you are, why do so many people think you aren’t? And why do you feel the need to share that information?

Another oddity – no one mentioned anything about the story out of New Zealand being wrong. Actually, none of them mentioned the story at all.

If there were no truth to any of this, all that was required was a straight denial. That should have taken 15 minutes to put together.

Instead, it took hours to wrangle all the top decision-makers at Canada Soccer to patch up a complex, interwoven, multiperson denial. That has the whiff of an organization protesting o’ermuch.

So no fire, but plenty of smoke and lots of time left to sit around doing a paranoid arson investigation.

Nothing has come of this little fizzle, but something’s coming. That’s how this works. Not always, but often enough to make it a rule. It’s just a matter of figuring when, where, who and how it can hurt the most.

Can the Canadian men’s program survive without Herdman? Of course it can. Every graveyard is full of indispensable men, but none are as chock-a-block as the crypts of sports. Herdman’s done the hard work of stitching the Canadian team into a unit. All the next person has to do is hold that group together until 2026.

A better question is can the men’s team thrive if we’re going to spend the next three years trying to figure out when John Herdman is leaving, and where he’s going, and who’s to blame for that, and what does Alphonso Davies think about that, and why is Canada Soccer always like this, and exactly how long is a regulation pitchfork?

Those questions are a lot more interesting, and the people who care about them – it’s a small group, but it’s growing – will spill barrels of virtual ink interrogating them.

Uncertainty is an enemy of successful sports organizations, and intrigue is its accelerant. From player strikes to spats over pay to people rubbishing the organization after they’ve left, Canada Soccer has always had these twin weaknesses much worse than most. The difference is that now people have started paying attention.

At the very least, making the World Cup in Qatar was supposed to graduate Canada out of this high school state of affairs. Canada was a big-timer now, with a big-time coach with big-time plans. Well, I hope Canada Soccer is happy. Because now it has a big-time HR headache, and shouting at people that you feel fine, fine, totally fine is not going to make them believe you.

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