Former Caps coach denies rift with star

Updated: November 29, 2011, 8:42 PM ET
By Scott Burnside | ESPN.com

Washington, D.C. -- Former Washington Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau told ESPN.com Tuesday he never had a problem with captain Alex Ovechkin and rumors of any kind of rift between the two are overblown.

Boudreau was fired as head coach of the Capitals on Monday and replaced by former team captain Dale Hunter.

Boudreau said Ovechkin called him after the news of Boudreau's firing. Boudreau said the two spoke for 15 minutes on Tuesday and the star winger thanked his former coach for his time with the Capitals.

"And I told him I loved him and blah, blah, blah, all the regular stuff," Boudreau said.

Ovechkin is off to a slow start with just eight goals in 22 games and the team struggling after a 7-0 start.

But Boudreau dismissed the notion that the two were feuding.

"It's so far from the truth," Boudreau said. "We got along, I think, famously."

Ovechkin told The Washington Post on Monday he was "shocked" by Boudreau's firing.

"I have good relationship with him," Ovechkin told the paper. "We have good relationship right away when they bring him in."

Much of the perceived friction stems from a game a month ago when Boudreau kept Ovechkin on the bench late in a one-goal contest against Anaheim.

After the Capitals tied the game with an extra attacker on the ice Ovechkin was also on the bench when overtime started although he did provide the primary assist on the game-winning goal that night. At the time, television cameras appeared to capture an upset Ovechkin on the bench.

Boudreau said that moment shouldn't define their relationship.

"People want to focus on the fact that I sat him out one shift," he said. "I don't have a problem and never once did I think I have a problem with Alex liking me or not liking me."

Scott Burnside covers the NHL for ESPN.com.

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