At this time last year, Pierre-Marc Bouchard
was well aware of the questions about him. Would his concussion symptoms ever go away? Would he return for the start of the regular season? Would he return at all?
The summer was the completion of the most frustrating phase of Bouchard's career.
This summer, there are more questions about "Butch," but they're a lot more fun to speculate on. For example, who will his linemates be? How many points can he put up alongside snipers like Dany Heatley
or Devin Setoguchi
? And how good can he be when he's starting the year full strength after an offseason crammed with workouts, skating, his wedding and some golf here and there?
Bouchard makes no secret about his excitement for this upcoming season, considering where he was at a year ago. He took some time to chat with Wild.com on Thursday, just after completing another intense workout.
Wild.com: How different has your state of mind been this summer compared to last year?Pierre-Marc Bouchard
: My summer is a lot more fun right now than last year. I'm able to do the normal stuff I do usually, which is working hard, getting back in shape, getting ready for training camp and next season. I've been able to play some golf and hang out with friends.
I'm feeling good and I'm healthy so I'm really excited for training camp.Wild.com:
Do you feel like you're getting a fresh start as opposed to having to get into game shape last year in the middle of the regular season?PMB:
Oh yeah, it does. It does. It's completely different. I'm able to train really hard in the gym and on the ice. I'll know when I get to training camp that I'll be ready to go and I'll have training camp to finalize the last touches and getting ready for the season.Wild.com:
Once you finally did get cleared and got into games, did you feel good all season?PMB:
No, it was all good when I started to play and my head was 100 percent.Wild.com:
Looking at this busy offseason for the Wild, what's been your impression of Mike Yeo as the new head coach?PMB:
With Mike, I heard a lot of good things about him. I had a good talk with him as well. We talked for a bit about next season and everything we need to do. I think it's pretty cool. For a coach, he's a young guy. He looks really excited and he looks like he's got a lot of passion for the game. I think it's good for the team.Wild.com:
And how about some of the personnel moves with the departures of Brent Burns and Martin Havlat along with the arrivals of Devin Setoguchi
and Dany Heatley
It's hockey, right? There's a lot of changes now, especially this summer. I think we got some really good players…great players, actually, with Heatley, Setoguchi and Powe and Lundin. Am I forgetting anybody?
The Wild were really busy, but it's good and now we have guys that can score some goals and I'm really excited about our team.Wild.com:
When you spoke to coach Yeo, did you get into specifics about who you might be playing with?PMB:
We didn't talk much about lines, to be honest. I think we have a great bunch of players. Training camp is going to be a good evaluation to see who is going to match up well with which players.Wild.com:
You came to the Wild as an 18-year-old, and it's tough to think about you now being one of the veterans who might be expected to take on a leadership role. How do you feel about that role on this team?PMB:
I'm looking forward to it, I mean, it goes quick, eh? (laughs) I'm already 27 and it just seemed like yesterday that I was drafted by the Wild. But I'm really looking forward to playing a bigger role with this team and as much off the ice as on the ice to try and help some of the younger guys.Wild.com:
With all of the excitement in the last month, there's been a bit of distraction from the tragedy of losing your former teammate and friend, Derek Boogaard. What will you remember about Derek?PMB:
That was just a really sad thing that happened. Boogey was a good friend. It's not fun to see that happen. He was a great guy in the room and it was always fun to have him on the ice with us. We always felt a little bit safer when he was there. It was a big loss for us, for his family and his friends.