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Boucher Ready to Contribute to Penguins

by Sam Kasan / Pittsburgh Penguins
On Sunday, Philippe Boucher became the oldest and newest Pittsburgh Penguin. The 35-year-old veteran will be the oldest player in the locker room, but he's also the newest addition to the team following his acquisition from the Dallas Stars in exchange for Darryl Sydor.

“I’m excited to join the Penguins and bring something to the team,” Boucher said. “It’s been a pretty crazy couple of days. I found out this morning. It’s always hard to leave a team you’ve been playing for but if you have to leave, there’s no better place to go than Pittsburgh.”

Boucher was notified of the trade on Sunday morning. He shared the news with his son Matthew, 10, and daughter Vanessa, 5. When they were told their father was traded to Pittsburgh, Vanessa responded:

“Daddy’s going to play with Sidney Crosby!”

Boucher will be another right-handed shot on the blue line. The 35-year-old has played in 723 career games over 14 NHL seasons. During that span, he compiled 91 goals and 203 assists for 294 points.

“He’s a veteran defenseman with good size,” executive vice president and general manager Ray Shero said. “He’s a good fit for our power-play unit. He has more experience; we’re a younger group out there. He gives us another option. He’s proven he can play 20-plus minutes and hopefully he can make a contribution for us.”

Boucher found the fountain of youth at 32 years old after the lockout. The first season back in action, he scored 16 goals and 27 assists for 43 points. The next year he set career highs in goals (19), assists (32), points (51) and power-play goals (12).

“Those were good years,” said Boucher, who was the 13th-overall selection in the 1991 draft by Buffalo. “It brought a lot of confidence. I got an opportunity to play on the power play with (Sergei) Zubov and (Mike) Ribeiro. I made the most of it.”

A shoulder injury and subsequent surgery limited him to 38 games last year, but he has fully recovered.

“I had a few different injuries last year,” said the 35-year-old. “I hurt my shoulder. I should have had surgery in the summer but ended up having it in December. When I got back into the lineup, I hurt my other shoulder. Last year I just could never get going. The surgery went well and I recovered well.”

“He’s fine,” Shero said of Boucher's shoulder. “He played every game for Dallas this year except (Saturday) night when they sat him with the trade going through. He’s back playing and hopefully he’ll be a good fit.”

Boucher will fit with a Pittsburgh defensive corps that boasts eight quality defensemen with Brooks Orpik, Kris Letang, Rob Scuderi, Hal Gill, rookie Alex Goligoski, Mark Eaton, Ryan Whitney and Sergei Gonchar. Though, injuries to Whitney (foot) and Gonchar (shoulder) really hurts the team’s depth.

“People say we have nine defensemen but really we have seven with the two injuries,” Shero said. “With two defensemen being out, we didn’t want to move one defenseman without getting another one back.

“We’ll see where this takes us. Whenever Gonchar and Whitney come back, there’s no time table on it but it’s not for a little while, but hopefully everyone comes back healthy and it will be a position of strength.”

That plethora of quality defensemen made it difficult for Sydor to crack the lineup. He’s only played eight of Pittsburgh’s 17 games this year. Since signing with the Penguins at the start of last season, Sydor tallied two goals and 13 assists in 82 games in Pittsburgh.

Sydor will be entering his third stint in Dallas.

“He’s one of the most professional guys, character guys, that I’ve been around and I’ve been in the league since ’93,” Shero said of Sydor. “He was always a team first guy. It was never about him. He wanted to play but he was always about the team. I’ll remember the dedication, leadership and character he gave us. I wish him good luck in the future.”

For now, Boucher becomes the newest Penguin and he’s excited about putting on the Penguins uniform.

“Who wouldn’t be?” Boucher said. “I have experience. I’ve played in almost every situation. I’m not sure of my role but I’m excited to join the team. I can’t wait to find out.”

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