By Monday night, we all knew.
Reports have Boucher becoming the new head coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning, marking the first major hire of Steve Yzerman's tenure as Lightning general manager.
It seems that Boucher simply picked the Lightning over Columbus. Is he going to regret that decision?
To look further into this, let's start by throwing out potential reasons like salary or staffing. Rumors have Boucher taking his staff from Hamilton -- Montreal's AHL affiliate -- to Tampa, but we don't know for sure if this was a sticking point in negotiations with any other franchise. We also don't know if he or his assistants will be paid more in Tampa than they would have been in Columbus.
Based on the talent available in both organizations -- both in the NHL and lower levels -- did Boucher make the right move?
The jilted lover here is Columbus. General manager Scott Howson did move quickly to hire Arniel after Boucher turned him down, but the reality is that Boucher was his first choice.
Boucher's team in Hamilton played a 1-3-1 forecheck that put a lot of pressure on defensemen to carry the puck. Columbus isn't exactly known for its puck-handling defensemen, especially at the NHL level. However, they'll have a chance to draft a top defenseman -- Brandon Gormley, Erik Gudbranson, or maybe even Cam Fowler -- when they pick fourth on June 25. They also have 2009 first-round pick John Moore, who played last season for the Kitchener Rangers of the OHL and showed his offensive skills. Former second-rounder Cody Goloubef showed some offensive talent at the University of Wisconsin, but is regarded more as a defensive player.
We all know about captain Rick Nash, one of the best players in the league. Nash will play well in any system, and if Boucher would have taken this job, he would have been able to flourish in an offensive-minded system that relies heavily on puck pursuit and pressuring the opponent. Derick Brassard played for Boucher when the two were in the QMJHL, so he likely would have flourished with a reunion.
But would it be the best spot for Boucher to succeed? Columbus' defensemen aren't a great fit for his system, and they aren't terribly deep up front, neither on the NHL roster nor in their system. Yes, they have Antoine Vermette and R.J. Umberger, but who's ready to step and make an impact?
Moreover, would Boucher be the right guy to finally get talented young forward Nikita Filatov -- a former top five draft pick -- out of his funk and committed to the NHL? The Blue Jackets have a short time left to figure out if they can get anything significant out of Filatov, or if they'll have to move him and hope to get something measurable in return.
Not long ago, the Lightning were a laughingstock. Worse yet, they won the Stanley Cup before the lockout, so their fall was quick and rather painful.
For a team that fell so quickly and has yet to regain form, Yzerman and Boucher have some decent parts with which to work.
For starters, the team's last two first-round picks look to greatly benefit from Boucher's system.
Meanwhile, 2009 first-rounder Victor Hedman will be right at home with Boucher. He has plenty of offensive talent, and the big Swede will be able to use it as his role will undoubtedly increase. It wouldn't be surprising to see Hedman be the main puck-possession guy in Boucher's system.
Outside of Hedman, Yzerman may have to hit the free agent or trade market to find a defenseman or two that suit this style. Andrej Meszaros and Mattias Ohlund are more defensive-oriented, and while Kurtis Foster is a capable offensive defenseman, he's not nearly as dynamic as Hedman.
Tampa has plenty of talent up front. Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis might not be spring chickens anymore, but they are good offensive players who will do just fine playing for Boucher. Steve Downie will be a star if he can cut down on his penalty minutes.
In the system, the Lightning have some great potential. Forwards Carter Ashton and Richard Panik both appear to be good fits for this aggressive style of play, and both 2009 draft picks are close to the NHL.
If Ty Wishart, 21, can continue getting better at his play away from the puck, the Lightning farmhand could become a top-four defenseman in a couple years.
In the end, it looks like Boucher made the right choice. Of course, Arniel and Columbus have a chance to prove him wrong on the ice, and Boucher could always be a flop as a coach in the NHL.
But when you look at the available talent and how they fit the system Boucher wants to install, it's hard not to conclude that Tampa Bay is the better fit.
Not only that, but how can you argue with moving to a place that allows you to wear shorts and flip-flops while you drive to the beach -- or hit the golf course -- on your day off?