- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 1, 2011

After the football games have ended and the leftovers have been stored comes Black Friday, which is supposed to be followed by another uber-shopping spree, Cyber Monday.

But the sports calendar got stuck in color-coded mode this year, resulting in a twist that dampened the holiday spirit in households across the country: Black Monday.

In the NHL, the Washington Capitals fired coach Bruce Boudreau while the Carolina Hurricanes fired coach Paul Maurice. That was nothing compared the clearance sale in college football, as Rick Neuheisel (UCLA), Dennis Erickson (Arizona State) and Ron Zook (Illinois) were discarded Monday.

Kansas got an early start by firing Turner Gill on Sunday. Washington State and the Jacksonville Jaguars straggled in late, jettisoning Paul Wulff and Jack Del Rio, respectively, on Tuesday. The Anaheim Ducks sensed the opportunity for an upgrade Wednesday and exchanged Randy Carlyle for the just-released Boudreau 2.0.

(For those whose Christmas wish list included a new football coach at Maryland, no. That would be too expensive given the athletic department’s current economic state and it would be too tacky, just one season after hiring the current coach. Sorry that the disappointment grew Wednesday when Washington State unwrapped a shiny new Mike Leach, exactly what the Terps needed as Ralph Friedgen’s replacement.)

As for Boudreau, he seemed to sense shaky ground Saturday after his final game, a 5-1 loss against Buffalo. He was bewildered by his inability to push the right buttons during the Caps’ 3-7-1 spiral. He questioned whether he was getting the players’ best effort. “You’ve got to believe there’s more to give,” he told reporters.

If those were pressing concerns on his mind, management was bound to wonder as well and obligated to make a move. He said general manager George McPhee did what he had to do.

But Anaheim hired Boudreau so quickly - they had him in California two days later - you’d think the Ducks had a car waiting outside after his meeting with McPhee. According to time stamps on the press releases from Washington and Anaheim, Boudreau was unemployed for a total of 65 hours and 25 minutes.

The Elias Sports Bureau reported that his six-day span between games coached with two teams will be the shortest in NHL history. The change of address was so swift, Boudreau doesn’t qualify as a coaching retread.

He’s more like a tire that took a little air and kept on rolling.

And in rolls yet another non-retread. What do the Caps have against men who have been there and done that? Dale Hunter is their fourth consecutive coach without any NHL coaching experience.

Presumably, Hunter’s status as a Caps legend and his tenure in the Ontario Hockey League is qualification enough. Boudreau landed the job thanks to his Calder Cup-winning experience with the Caps’ AHL affiliate, the Hershey Bears. Boudreau replaced Glen Hanlon, who had replaced Bruce Cassidy.

There was little doubt that Boudreau would get another opportunity, and rightfully so. His playoff record caused plenty of grief in Washington but many teams crave the success he’s enjoyed in the regular season. Maybe he’ll figure out how to win playoff games in Anaheim, which missed the postseason in two of the past three years.

The Ducks won the Stanley Cup under Carlyle in 2007 after he led them to the conference finals in 2006, heights the Caps never reached with Boudreau. But the explanation for Carlyle’s firing just as easily could have come out of McPhee’s mouth regarding Boudreau.

Randy is a terrific head coach and did a tremendous job for us,” Ducks GM Bob Murray said in a statement. “We thank him greatly for his hard work and dedication to our franchise, not the least of which was a Stanley Cup championship. At this time, we simply felt a new voice was needed.”

I can’t decide what’s more shocking about Boudreau. Was it surviving the way-too-soon offseason and returning for another go? Or was it being fired just 22 games into the season after going 7-0 to start?

Plenty of observers opined that Boudreau never should have been retained after last season’s four-game flameout against Tampa Bay in the second round. I favored bringing him back but figured this would be his last season unless there was significant improvement in the playoffs.

Now he’s gone. And Washington would have missed the playoffs if they started Thursday.

At least Boudreau didn’t have to wait long for the carousel to swing his way. Unemployment is still sinking in for other coaches fired this week.

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