Hockey fans who miss watching Brian Boucher stop pucks can watch the former goalie call the action of NHL and college games.
The former Tri-City American and 13-year NHL veteran has been calling games, working “Inside the Glass” and as a studio analyst with NBC Sports, the NHL Network and Comcast SportsNet since the 2014 NHL playoffs.
“I really enjoy it,” Boucher said. “I hope I’m good enough that people enjoy listening to me. I’d like to make this my second career. I love watching hockey, talking about hockey and being around hockey.”
A first-round draft pick of the Philadelphia Flyers in 1995 (22nd overall), Boucher, 38, last played in the NHL for the Flyers during the 2012-13 season. But the native of Woonsocket, R.I., said he started thinking about his future in his early 30s.
“When you are 32, you start wondering what you are going to do,” Boucher said. “You hear horror stories, and you hear stories of guys doing well. I thought I wanted to do broadcasting, but then you don’t know if you have what it takes. Fortunately for me, this has been great.”
Boucher started out doing Lehigh Valley Phantoms (AHL) games, and his broadcasting career took off from there.
“Fortunately, it has turned into a full-time gig for me,” Boucher said.
Boucher gets the NBC “Inside the Glass” job — covering the action between the teams’ benches — when Pierre McGuire has the day off. While Boucher likes being in the action, he’s used to having a full suit of armor for protection.
“You have to pay attention,” Boucher said. “You have to be careful of pucks, sticks and guys flying in. Knock on wood, nothing bad has happened yet. It’s all new to me. I have so much to learn. I’m trying to be a sponge. It’s nice to be around the players again.”
Boucher got his big break in hockey in the winter of 1994. He was playing Tier II hockey in Toronto when he heard Tri-City needed a goalie. Then-Americans general manager Dennis Beyak made a great pitch.
“In two months, I went from Rhode Island to Toronto to Washington,” Boucher said. “It was crazy. I really wanted to play college hockey — that’s where my heart was at. But I couldn’t get a commitment right away. Schools that were interested in me had older goalies, and I would have gotten to play five or six games a year until I was a senior. Tri-City needed a goalie, and they had a good school package to offer.”
Boucher had drawn interest from Michigan State, Providence, Brown and Cornell. The NHL Central Scouting Bureau thought highly of him, pegging him for a second-round pick in the 1995 draft. He knew if he wanted to be a high draft pick, he needed to play.
He arrived in the Tri-Cities in mid-November 1994. He sat for three weeks before he played. Coach Bob Loucks apparently liked what he saw from the 17-year-old. Boucher played 35 games that season and earned the starting job in the playoffs.
“Bob Loucks was good to me,” Boucher said. “They opened the door and let me play. We had a good team that year. We went to the conference finals (lost to Kamloops) and had six guys drafted that year.”
He played 55 games the following season and 41 games his final year. He also played in the 1996 and 1997 World Junior Championship for Team USA. The Americans finished fifth in ’96 and second the next year.
“It was a great opportunity for me,” Boucher said. “That was what I needed. For a goalie my age, it was the right place for me.”
Boucher played for Philadelphia, Phoenix, Calgary, Chicago, Columbus, San Jose and Carolina during his NHL career. He holds the NHL’s modern record for the longest shutout streak at 332 minutes, 1 second, set while he was a member of the Phoenix Coyotes during the 2003-04 season.
Boucher and his family — wife Melissa, son Tyler, 12, and daughter Brianna, 11 — live in South Jersey, outside Philadelphia.
In addition to his TV work, Boucher helps coach his son’s hockey team. But Tyler skipped the crease and became a forward.
“Thirteen years in the NHL, and I know nothing about hockey because I was a goalie,” said Boucher, sharing a recent quip from his son.
Good thing there are those who know differently.