The legend tells that the footprints made by Paul Bunyan and Babe The Blue Ox were so large, they filled with water and became Minnesota’s 10,000 lakes.
Similarly, the first-year USPHL team, the Minnesota Blue Ox, have gargantuan plans in mind to serve the youth of Minnesota and beyond. Helping guide this vision as a Co-Owner is none other than the man in charge of the Minnesota Wild’s on-ice attack, Wild Head Coach Bruce Boudreau.
Boudreau has joined with his wife Crystal Boudreau, Terri Yontz Miller, Tim Mahoney (a former contestant on TV’s “The Voice) and Jay Witta as co-owners of the Blue Ox.
“I’ve always thought of wanting to continue to help hockey grow,” said Boudreau, in an exclusive interview with USA Jr. Hockey Magazine. “This is my calling. Hockey is my whole life, that’s all I’ve ever done. This opportunity came up after coaching in Minnesota for a year, and understanding how important hockey is to the ‘State of Hockey.’”
Witta was coach of Bruce and Crystal’s son Brady’s team in 2016-17, and approached the couple with the opportunity to purchase an expansion franchise in the USPHL.
“It gives a spot for kids who finished high school and who still believe they can play, and who want a coach to look at them,” Bruce Boudreau added. “I thought it would be a great opportunity to help the game grow. I took a leap of faith.”
“Bruce and I had lunch at the end of April, and we talked about buying a team. By the end of May, it was a done deal,” said Witta, who will serve as General Manager/Head Coach of the Blue Ox in the USPHL. “I had reached out to the USPHL and they had a 16th franchise available for the Midwest Division. We figured out the budget, ownership percentages, roles, and we were off and running with the Minnesota Blue Ox.”
Boudreau, the winner of the 2007-08 Jack Adams Award in his first year as a NHL head coach with Washington, will start his 11th season as a NHL head coach at September’s Wild training camp.
“Jay is doing a great job, and my wife is doing a great job, and I’m sort of the face of the team,” said Bruce. “When people talk about the Blue Ox, they talk to me, but we’ve all gotten along. We [were] all looking forward to our first tryout camp at the end of July.”
“It doesn’t hurt having Bruce involved,” said Witta, with a laugh. “Seriously, he brings a lot of credibility to the Blue Ox and the USPHL. When he and I set out on this adventure, we both agreed we were going to do this right. The players come first. Period. Working with Crystal every day has been awesome, too. They both a great balance of hockey and business knowledge to our team.”