As y’all may have surmised, Philippe Boucher is my favorite player. In all the league. For a while, I would say that he’s my favorite Star and Joe Nieuwendyk is my favorite player. But now that Nieuwy has retired, Bouche is my favorite player in all the league. And don’t tell Nieuwy, but if he were still playing he might be coming in second these days.
I have no idea what made me fall for Bouche when he came to town. I was casting around for a new favorite because Nieuwy had been traded and I was on the rebound.
I’m sure a lot of it had to do with just how hot he is. The reason I think that might be it is because I vaguely remember thinking, when I first saw him in a game, “Ooh. Who’s that?!”
It’s just as likely it’s because he is a big defenseman that can push people down without even trying, and doesn’t stand for people picking on his buddies. Or because he can score from the point, or because he can kill penalties and block shots and pass out of the defensive zone.
Or it could be his voice and his soft French-Canadian accent.
It could be that he can hold a conversation in an interview. He listens to the question, then answers it intelligently, often making a new point even with a cliché question.
All of these things were evident in the first season, so it’s hard to pin down exactly where it started.
Since I decided he was my favorite, he has reinforced it season after season. It’s also become apparent that he’s a really nice guy and everybody, including the media, just love him. His teammates seem to love him, too.
The first season he was here, he had a plus-minus of 28. I remember checking the league stats every day and finding him up with the best defensemen in the league. He had another plus-28 season two years later. Two seasons ago he was in the top 5 in blocked shots most of the year.
Two seasons ago, he had one of the best offensive years for a defenseman in Stars franchise history, while is poor father was very sick. He went to the All-Star game that season and really deserved to. I was at the Skills Competition that year and when they introduced him last, the ovation he got almost brought him to tears. It did bring me to tears.
Speaking of bringing me to tears, he did it again when he told the story about what it was like to get hit in the face with the puck back in 2003. He talked about how, a day or two after it happened, his young son came to the dinner table crying because he had seen the clip on the news. That was such an awful night. I was watching that game on TV and it just made me sick to see him writhing on the ice like that.
Last season, he had surgery on his shoulder early in the season. But not before suffering with the shoulder for the first two months to give Norstrom a chance to recover from an eye injury. He didn’t just want to abandon the team, so he toughed it out until Norstrom got back. Bouche and Zubov both had injury troubles that apparently got the long-time trainer fired.
The injuries he had last season pretty much wasted it for him. It just broke my heart to see how upset he was about missing so much time, and how excited he was to be back on the ice briefly before he was injured again.
I missed him. I didn’t get to see him play much. During his time out, he did a couple of studio shows for Fox Sports and he did a really great job. I mean really great. He looked good, he sounded good, and he seemed well-prepared. He even gave us some insight into what might be going on in the dressing room after a particularly bad loss. He said that Tippett doesn’t call people out individually in front of everybody else, even when he’s really mad. He might single out the defense, or a special team, but never an individual player. When Bouche does decide to retire (hopefully many years from now), the broadcast booth would be the perfect place for him. He’s got a voice for radio and a face for TV.
Like I say, he’s my very favorite player. I would be very happy if he stayed healthy this year and forced the Stars to re-sign him before his contract expires. If he’s healthy, he’s a great defenseman. He is an all-around defenseman, not just an offensive or defensive one. He can score, and he can guard the net.
And he’s oh, so pretty.