He calls the sport "addictive," explains that even his wife is now playing hockey. Once you start, Olivier Cazalis says, it's very hard to stop. But here, he's talking about actually stopping, bringing yourself to a halt after you've worked so hard at becoming a blur. "On the ice, you can go very fast, amazingly fast, but you can't stop," Cazalis says. "It's scary. Good thing there are boards all around." How skilled is Bruce Boudreau at moving men to act, this coach who has the Ducks playing at a level higher than nearly every other team in the NHL? Boudreau's words helped inspire Cazalis, a Frenchman who grew up playing rugby, a math teacher who rarely had been on skates, a man who knew ice hockey only from the Olympics, to take up an endeavor that now has him blissfully face-planting Plexiglas. Back when the NHL was stagnating under a labor dispute, Boudreau was still admirably growing the game, growing it at the very tips of the roots, where the novices and dry-landers reside. "He takes his role as an ambassador of the game very seriously," says Jason Cooper, the Ducks' fan development coordinator. "He really wants to support the game, especially in a non-traditional market. His comment was sort of flippant, but it landed." In mid-October, when he was in demand only because the NHL was out of order, Boudreau was invited to the team's annual S.C.O.R.E. orientation at Honda Center. The program uses hockey to teach lesson plans and encourage healthy living at local schools. Organizers asked Boudreau, a celebrated talker who has an autobiography called "Gabby," if he would be willing to speak to the group. Five minutes is all Cooper asked for. At the end of his 30-minute presentation, Boudreau encouraged the 75 or so teachers in attendance to get off their rearends and try hockey themselves. Twenty signed up and, from that group, the Big Kahunas emerged, triumphantly striding over the boards at Westminster ICE and immediately landing right back on those rearends that were raised only temporarily. "My legs just went out from under me," says Kristin Jones, a fourth-grade teacher at Mattie Lou Maxwell Elementary in Anaheim. "It was scary. There was a point where I could have started crying and I thought, 'I can't. Hockey players don't cry. I cannot cry. I will do this.'"
Ducks' coach inspires teachers to try hockey
Orange County Register | Mar 13