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Best Of Unplugged: Bouchard and Brunette

by Kevin Falness / Minnesota Wild
Hockey Unplugged is an event that Wild players and fans look forward to throughout the season. Unplugged host Kevin Falness engages in an always-entertaining Question & Answer period with two players, which is then followed by an autograph session. The last Unplugged was a special night considering Andrew Brunette was a guest the night before he played his 1,000th NHL game. He was joined by longtime teammate and fellow playmaking wizard, Pierre-Marc Bouchard Here’s the best of what they had to say on January 31 at Champp's in Woodbury.

KF:    Let's start with the obvious Bruno, 1000 games in the NHL. You’re in elite company because not a lot of guys in the history of the game make it to that milestone and you’re one of them. What’ does that say about you?

AB:    I think it means a couple of different things. I think it means I’m getting old. I don’t feel that old, because I think I still have some hockey left. I think when your career is over and you look back, you probably have a better sense of what it all means. I was happy to play one NHL game and the other 999 have been blessings.

KF:    You’ve been around the block a couple of times and you’ve seen other guys reach 1000 games. Can you think back to anyone in particular that got there, and at the time you were in awe?

AB:    I played with quite a few guys that hit that milestone. I remember I played in Minnesota native Phil Housley’s 1000th game. I thought that was ancient at the time.

KF:    What do you think Butch? A thousand games in the NHL. That’s roughly twice as many games as you’ve played.

PMB:    I think it's unbelievable and pretty cool. Andrew was able to stay healthy during his career. He deserves it, he’s been having a great career, and it’s special.

KF:    How about you, Butch? You're back on the ice after missing around 100 games with that concussion. I bet it feels pretty good to be back.

PMB:    Oh yeah, big time. It’s been fun to be back on the ice and playing some games. Last year was a long one, and it wasn’t fun at all. I want to move forward and try and play some good hockey.

KF:    What did you guys do to get away during the All-Star break?

PMB:    I went to Vegas. I’ve never been to the Grand Canyon so I just went there and was able to go in a helicopter and see it from above. It was pretty cool.

AB:    I went to Mexico to Playa del Carmen. I spent a few days on a beach up there and the weather was great. It was a little bit of a shocker to get back here and get off the plane.

KF:    Who’d you go with?

AB:    Actually (my wife and I) ended up at a resort and Nik Backstrom was there and Cal Clutterbuck and Kyle Brodziak. Plus, Marian Gaborik was at a resort by us and so was Nick Schultz. We had a nice little dinner and caught up on old times. It was good to see those guys.

KF:    I’m sure it’s fun to run into friends when you’re on vacation, but here you are trying to take a mental break from hockey and all of a sudden you’re surrounded by hockey people. The last thing I want to do on vacation is run into my co-workers.

AB:    We kept our distance and just got together for dinner, but running into Gaborik, someone I haven’t seen for a long time, it was good to hook up with him. We didn’t talk about hockey. We talked about other things.

KF:    What about this rookie dinner that took place in Chicago? It was supposed to be all about Jared Spurgeon, Clayton Stoner and Cody Almond yet a couple of big names crashed the party in Charles Barkley and Michael Strahan. Sounds like Sir Charles was referring to you as “White Oprah”. What was that all about?

AB:    I was just grilling him a little bit. He was a lot of fun. It was kind of neat. He just pulled up a chair in the middle of the room and took over. Somebody had to jab him a little bit. They both were there for the Packers/Bears game so they went there after the game and we were there the same night, and they wanted to come in and say hello. It was fun. They’re really fun guys.

KF:    After 1000 games do you remember your rookie dinner?

AB:    Sure do, you don’t forget that one. I think I had to tell a joke maybe, I’m not sure, it was a little fuzzy by the end of the night. It’s my secret joke and I can’t tell it because if I did, more people would be telling it. I save it for key occasions where I have to have a joke, and that’s my joke.

KF:    Butch, do you remember your rookie dinner with the Wild back in 2003?

PMB:    Yeah I do, it was in L.A. and it was fun. I was 18 at the time, and my friend Bruno asked me to impersonate Jacques Lemaire for five minutes.

KF:    What was it like for you, now as a veteran, to watch Almond, Stoner and Spurgeon get grilled by the team along with Barkley and Strahan?

PMB:    It was pretty fun, and I know it was a big night for them as well. The rookie night is a big thing. You dream of being a part of an NHL team and that night says everything. Strahan and Barkley were pretty funny too.

KF:    I hate to be the bearer of bad news, as I know this won’t sit well with the single ladies in the audience. But Butch, you're off the market. Anything you care to share about your future bride?

PMB:    Next summer will be a big summer.

KF:    How’d you propose, did you get down on one knee? Would you care to reenact the special moment?

PMB:    I did get down on one knee and I proposed. She’s from back home, where I played my Junior hockey and I’d go back there every summer to see the family I used to live with and see some friends. I guess we had some mutual friends and I met her and fell in love. I’m really lucky to have her. She’s been great. She’s been living here with me for like the last five years. She loves it here and it feels like home. It’s a good time.

KF:    Bruno, do you give the seal of approval to the future Mrs. Bouchard?

AB:    Absolutely, she’s a beautiful woman but I think she might be blind a little bit. Her eyesight must be a little bit off. Just kidding, she’s a really sweet girl and he’s lucky to have her and vice versa.
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