New San Diego Gulls Coach Talks Hockey, Hospitality & Fishing

Joel Bouchard, entering his first season as head coach of the San Diego Gulls, talked with NBC 7 about various topics on and off the ice in San Diego.

Joel Bouchard was born in Montreal, he played youth hockey there.

Bouchard was drafted and played for the Calgary Flames in the National Hockey League.

He played on Team Canada in 3 World Championships, winning a gold medal all 3 times.

He's coached minor league hockey in Quebec since 2014, the last 3 years in his hometown of Montreal.

Joel Bouchard is a Canadian through and through.

So, why at 47 years old leave Canada and basically start over in San Diego?

“Everybody asks me why San Diego? And I say why not!”

Bouchard, like so many, is attracted to all that San Diego has to offer.

Gulls training camp in Anaheim and rookie workouts have kept him busy and away from his new hometown for long stretches, but when he's here, one of the things he's noticed are the people of San Diego.

"The people have been so kind to me since I got here," Bouchard says. "It's not because I am the San Diego Gulls coach because they don't really know me, they are just kind and nice just 'cuz that's how it is, and that's really refreshing."

Maybe one of those"kind and nice people" will help coach Bouchard experience something that he’s interested in and is relatively easy to do here in San Diego.

"I really like deep sea fishing, so I am looking to tie myself on a day off to get out there and give it a go. I heard there's really good fishing, so that is something I am going to do when the time is right."

Before coach can reel in a big fish, Gulls hockey is his full priority.

The first-year coach is busy installing his system and earning the trust and respect of his players, which shouldn't be hard.

Bouchard played for 8 NHL teams in 11 seasons, he’s coached at various levels of professional hockey, he’s a hockey lifer, who’s seen and done it all.

"There's not one thing that a player sitting in front of me can say "you don't understand," because I've lived it. I've lived the American League, I've lived the call-up, I've lived the send down, I've lived being injured and having to go back in the minors to work my game up to back to the NHL, I mean I've lived it all. I've lived being the top pairing in the NHL and I've lived being the 6th-7th defenseman in the NHL, so there's not really one thing a player can say to me that I wouldn't understand."

Bouchard says his coaching philosophy is simple, he’s there to help every player be a better version of themselves.

"Every player that I get.... is to get them to version 2.0!"

The Joel Bouchard era of San Diego Gulls hockey begins on October 16th at Ontario with the 2021 AHL season opener. The first chance to see Bouchard and the Gulls in San Diego is October 22nd, the Gulls first home game.

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