(Voorhees, NJ) – Were you to attend any Philadelphia Flyers home game from 1999 through 2002, it never took long to figure out who was in goal that night. Even if you had walked into the building a little late, it only took one nice save from #33.
“Booooooosh,” as the crowd would call, is back.
Asked if he’s looking forward to hearing that once again, a smile quickly spreads across Brian Boucher’s face.
“Yeah I am. I haven’t heard it in a long time. The other cities I played in really didn’t do it, so hopefully the fans will continue like they did 10 years ago,” he said.
|Brian Boucher was 12-6-3 with the San Jose Sharks in 2008-09. (Getty Images) |
Boucher signed a two-year deal
as a free agent with the Flyers over the summer, as the club completely overhauled its goaltending with the 32-year-old veteran as well as Ray Emery
, who played last season in Russia.
The two goalies got to spend some time together in mid-July, when they were both a part of the Winter Classic press conference
announcement at Fenway Park.
“I hadn’t met him before but he seems like a pleasant guy and nice guy and he’s a guy looking at his second chance in the NHL,” said Boucher. “With us, you’ve got two guys that are going to be pretty hungry and I’m sure we’re going to do a good job for this team.”
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Boucher originally endeared himself to the Philadelphia fan base back in 1999-2000, when, as a rookie, he took the club to the seventh game of the Eastern Conference Finals which it lost to the New Jersey Devils. In that playoff year, he went 11-7 with a 2.03 goals against average and .918 save percentage.
After a disappointing couple of years subsequent to that in which Philadelphia was eliminated in the first round, Boucher was traded to Phoenix for Michael Handzus and Robert Esche in the summer of 2002.
Boucher looks back on that time with brutal honesty.
“I think early on I had success…why, I’m really not quite sure, but I did, and the expectations I had for myself were a little high and maybe unattainable,” he said. “I kind of went sideways there for a bit, but now I feel like I’ve righted the ship and I feel good about my game.
“The most important thing for me is that I’ve grown as a person and I feel like I’m a good teammate.”
After bouncing around for a couple years with Phoenix, Calgary, Chicago and Columbus with minimal success, Boucher found his career at a crossroads. That’s when Paul Holmgren gave him a call.
“I was coming off of shoulder surgery in the summer [of 2007], and had a couple tough seasons, and it was tough to find a job,” he explained. “I wanted to go down to the minors and play. I didn’t want to go to Europe; I just wanted to find a place in the minors where I could play some hockey games and get my game back and my confidence back and show that I am still a good goaltender.
“I am thankful to the Flyers and Paul Holmgren for giving me a chance with the Phantoms. They didn’t have to do that. They’ve got guys they need to develop, and they found a spot for me. I got an opportunity to go to San Jose, and they let me go. And now, I’m back. It’s funny how that works.”
Boucher reestablished himself as an NHL goaltender during his two-year stint in San Jose, which picked him up midway though the 2007-08 season when he was playing with the Phantoms. Last season, he posted a 12-6-3 record in 22 games with a brilliant 2.18 goals against average and .917 save percentage in leading the Sharks to the best record in the NHL.
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Boucher skated for the first time on Tuesday at the Virtua Center Flyers Skate Zone
with a mix of current Flyers, Phantoms and prospects. After signing with Philadelphia, he spent the majority of the summer home in Rhode Island with his wife and two children.
“It goes quickly when you have kids,” he said. “The summers get shorter and go by faster.
He completed the move over the weekend after a couple trips, and is looking forward to getting settled into an area he already knows very well.
“I’ve always enjoyed it here. It’s not too often you get to play in places that you really enjoy, and this is a place that I enjoy.
“I feel fortunate to have a chance to come back again.”