Scott Walker’s tenure as Bruce Boudreaux’s assistant coach for the Vancouver Canucks may not have been long. But in his first radio appearance since he quietly separated from the team during his break, he left a lasting memory.
During an interview on Sportsnet 650’s Canucks Central on Tuesday, Walker discussed his decision to step down, as well as his relationship with Bruce Boudreaux and his public disdain for hockey analytics.
Walker’s decision to leave Vancouver came as no surprise to those close to him. With no guarantee of a long-term contract on the table, the long distance from his wife and children in Guelph, Ontario was the deciding factor in the move away.
As a result, Walker warned new Hockey Ops chief Jim Rutherford about it when he took command in December.
As soon as Jimmy came over, he said, ‘Okay, I want to give you this. ‘ Hear me,’ said Walker. ‘Two years is fine, but I guarantee you only until the end of this year.’ “It’s not that I would or wouldn’t have been able to go back. But my daughter is going to finish high school and prepare to go to university, and my son is 19.”
“I wasn’t willing to commit, and obviously I also wanted to respect them and give them time to find those they needed.”
The former Canucks winger was already expecting to join Bruce Boudreau behind the bench if a mid-season hire came. So when Boudreaux was hired by team owner Francesco Aquilini in mid-December, Walker was the first person he called.
“I was at my brother-in-law’s house at a birthday party or something near Christmas. I got the call and [Boudreau] He basically said ‘Hey, you gotta get ready.’ Like we’re on a plane right now and we’re picking you up in Toronto,’ said Walker. There was no talk of a contract, no talk or nothing. So I jumped on the plane, got off it, and started the next day.”
I worked for three weeks without a contract. We were talking about one, but I wasn’t really interested in that.”
Walker previously played under Boudreaux in a number of games with the Washington Capitals in 2009-2010 before working with him in a series of roles for Canada Hockey last year. So he knew exactly what kind of seat he was in when he joined the Canucks.
“I’ve been around Bruce a lot. Walker said his life wants to make people feel positive and feel good about themselves.” He has a knack in the X and O for getting players in the right places, but he also gives them the freedom to go and play. And you can clearly see the players thrive in it.”
But while the majority of the 20-minute interview had hair on Boudreaux and the team around him, when the topic of analytics was approached, Walker went in a different direction. Despite working in several player development roles at the Canucks from 2015 through 2019, when he left to join the front office of Arizona Coyotes as special assistant to then-GM John Chayka, Walker was dismissive about the importance of understanding advanced hockey stats.
“I was totally against analytics in hockey. “I mean, show me an analytical team that won the Stanley Cup,” Walker said. “People were saying our analysis wasn’t great when we were in Vancouver, but we were winning games.”
“I’ve finished nine games over .500, have I finished 12 games over .500? Those are the only analytics I care about in life.”
While Walker was quick to reassure that his views on the subject are not the everything and the end of it all, he articulated a line of thinking that runs counter to the core values of the new front desk that Rutherford and General Motors Patrick Alvin assembled. With senior management and coaching staff required to be in sync with roster decisions, it would come as no surprise that the eventual Walker replacement would have the opposite mindset to provide more balance on the bench.
Regardless, Walker provided the Canucks locker room with a breath of fresh air when they needed it most; During a turbulent season he was slipping fast. Even after a faulty puck hit in mid-January caused vertigo problems for months, Walker returned in March to help pull the Canucks within close proximity to the playoffs.
He and Bruce Boudreaux patched the ship together. But while the captain searches for a new first mate, Scott Walker will be sailing alone into the sunset in Guelph.
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