He's not one of the two former Montreal Canadiens head coaches preparing to do battle for the Stanley Cup, but Guy Boucher is the one that got away.

For Canadiens fans frustrated by the stultifyingly dull personal and professional stylings of Jacques Martin, losing Boucher to the Tampa Bay Lightning was the biggest woulda-coulda-shoulda scenario of the 2010-2011 NHL season.

As a rookie head coach with Tampa Bay, the former coach of the Canadiens' AHL franchise in Hamilton took the Lightning to within a whisker of the Stanley Cup final.

Along the way, Boucher demonstrated that he's a master motivator, manipulator and innovator. He managed to keep his best players defensively responsible without sacrificing offence, and he did it all without the benefit of being able to rely on a legitimate number one goaltender.

Above and beyond his professional credentials, Boucher is a dynamic personality who would be a star in this town, which embraces its hockey stars like no other city in the world. In a culture and a sport that both cater to emotion, the passionate and animated Boucher is a much more natural fit than the hopelessly inscrutable Martin.

This isn't a slam against Martin.

He is who he is, and his record over a quarter century as an NHL coach - including two seasons behind the Canadiens bench - speaks for itself. Nor is it an early nomination for sainthood for Boucher, who's only got one season under his belt.

Longevity is the ultimate test of proficiency, and it will be interesting to watch the long-term evolution of Guy Boucher as a head coach in the National Hockey League.

Sadly, it would have been a lot more interesting to watch it here in the Mecca of hockey, and not from 2,500 kilometers away in the Mecca of shuffleboard.