ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Bruce Boudreau's teams have been remarkably consistent and successful over nearly a decade on the bench in the NHL.

They've also had a history of early exits from the playoffs. Otherwise, the 61-year-old coach would not have been available to the Minnesota Wild.

Though the Wild have qualified for the postseason four straight times, this is a bunch that is badly in need of stability after several years of sudden sharp turns along the chase for a championship.

"They need a different voice," general manager Chuck Fletcher said, "and Bruce's experience, as well as his tremendous passion for the game and his hockey IQ, I believe will allow him to push this group to heights they haven't been to yet."

Fletcher said he tried not to "over-think" the decision once Boudreau became available following his firing by Anaheim. He has the highest winning percentage among active NHL coaches, with eight division titles in nine years beginning with Washington in 2007-08. As fans of the Ducks and Capitals would quickly mention, of course, Boudreau has won only five series in the playoffs. His Game 7 record is 1-7, with all the losses coming on home ice.

"Hey, I'm fully aware. I've been in the business for over 40 years. I know the way this works, and we're in a winning business so you have to win," said Boudreau, who has a four-year contract.

 

With accomplished, expensive and experienced leaders in Mikko Koivu, Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, and a core of 25-and-under players like Charlie Coyle, Mikael Granlund and Jason Zucker who haven't hit their potential, Boudreau will have personalities to manage and plenty of talent to tailor his systems to.

The Wild might have hit a ceiling with their current roster, reaching the second round twice in four years. They've never played well enough during the regular season to get one of those high seeds, often just desperately trying to play their way in down the stretch.

 

"This is the last place I'm going," Boudreau said. "I told my wife I'm going to say here for as long as they want me, and I hope it's a long time."