So much changed after the 2008-09 Wild season – a new general manager and a new head coach just to name two – that you’d be hard pressed to find many people thinking this offseason will be similar to last summer. But there is one Wild player who ended his season in an eerily similar position as last year.
For Pierre-Marc Bouchard
, the feeling’s already old and he’s ready to be done with summers filled with the same, repetitive routines.
Last year, Bouchard missed the final eight games of the season with a concussion. This season, the right winger only skated in the season-opener in Columbus. He lost 81 games to symptoms so debilitating he’s barely been able to exercise and he ended this season the same way the last ended, wondering when he’ll be at full strength again.
No one would blame Bouchard if he was filled with frustration about the cards the hockey gods have dealt him lately. However, the soon-to-be 26-year-old is hopeful and driven to get past the concussion that brought his seventh season in the NHL to an abrupt halt.
“For the beginning of my offseason, it’s just going to be get healthy, get my head 100 percent and hopefully, in the next few weeks, I’ll be able to work out again when I’m symptom free,” Bouchard said.
While he once again enters the offseason facing the obstacles of a concussion, Bouchard knows that the circumstances are different than last year; he’s going to have to come back from missing nearly the whole season instead of just a few games.
“It’s going to be a pretty big summer for me. I didn’t play all season, so I’ll have to work out pretty hard to get back in shape. I’ll have to play more hockey than I used to during the summer because I didn’t play [this season]. I’ll have to get my timing back.”
The progress of the offensive whiz will be closely monitored by Wild management, which would have loved to have more playmaking in the lineup last season.
Bouchard spent a month in Montreal during the 2009-10 season, and will once again be back and forth between Quebec and Minnesota this summer. Unlike usual summers filled with rest to recover from the grind of the season, Bouchard will use the coming months to work out and get back in shape. Sure, he’ll watch his favorite golf and tennis tournaments on TV, but there won’t be any standard time off, or vacations.
“I rested enough this year," he admitted. "Usually I take a month off everything after the season, then I start working out, then hockey I start mid-July probably. But when I’m symptom free and able to get my heart rate pretty high, I’m going to start playing. As soon as I can, I’m going to start being on the ice.”