VANCOUVER — Bruce, there he goes?
In inviting Bruce Boudreau to return to the Vancouver Canucks next season for his option year, president Jim Rutherford also opened the door for the head coach to leave after a 32-15-10 turnaround that kept the National Hockey League team in the playoff race until the final week of the regular season.
With unequivocal clarity, Rutherford said he wants Boudreau to return under terms of the existing two-year agreement the coach signed with owner Francesco Aquilini in December, a few days before Rutherford was hired above Boudreau as the head of hockey operations.
There will be no extension offered Boudreau this summer, Rutherford said, which means the 67-year-old coach could explore potential offers from other teams before the June 1 deadline for him to decide on his option year with the Canucks.
The directness of Rutherford’s statement to reporters at management’s year-end press conference on Tuesday left no wiggle room. Essentially, Boudreau can take it or leave it.
And that will feel to many fans and players like a risky ultimatum after Boudreau’s .649 winning percentage, albeit on a tiny sample, topped Alain Vigneault’s coaching mark as the best in franchise history.
“We would be willing to have him back under the contract that he agreed to when he came here,” Rutherford said when asked about the possibility of an extension for Boudreau. “That’s certainly not to say that at the end of next…