Saturday, May 13, 2017

Philippe Boucher Autograph Card

Philippe Boucher's career mirrored that of another defenseman of his generation, Patrice Brisebois, in that both were extremely good with the puck, made very good passes, had an accurate shot that was just hard enough to go in on its own but also easy enough for teammates to try to deflect, and whose size had GMs and coaches hoping they'd be more physical and better in their own zone.

In today's NHL, these types of players - exemplified best by the likes of Mark Streit and Kris Letang - are now known as "puck-moving offensive defensemen", and most play top-4 minutes; this was also often the case in the 1990s and early-00s, but physical play was more prevalent (and refereeing was, dare I say, worse) back then, so forwards with lesser talent were usually tasked to hit them - legally or not - to prey the puck loose, and once a cycle was in motion, they had little means to stop it.

Some of these players won Stanley Cups in their heydey - Brisebois with the Montréal Canadiens in 1993, for instance - but others had a harder time at it. Boucher falls into the latter category.

Originally a first-round draft pick of the Buffalo Sabres, he was traded to the Los Angeles Kings after failing to make his mark in Buffalo for three seasons. The big knock over his time in L.A. was his inability to remain healthy, only suiting up for 80 games in a season once, in his final of eight seasons in the sun. It was with the Dallas Stars that he would truly find his groove, however, setting the team record for goals by a defenseman with 19, in 2006-07. That year, he made it onto the All-Star Game's starting roster (replacing the injured Scott Niedermayer), finished 12th in Norris voting and even got some Lady Byng votes.

However, as he was nearing the end of his contract and perhaps even his career, at age 35, the Stars sent him to the Pittsburgh Penguins at the trade deadline of the 2008-09 season, and he provided defensive depth for a team that went on to win the Cup.

He did, in fact, retire after winning the championship, injuries having taken their toll.

In 2011, he was named President and GM of the LHJMQ's Rimouski Océanic, until he stepped down to become GM and head coach of the rival Québec Remparts after their own owner, President, GM and head coach Patrick Roy signed on to be head coach and VP of Player Personnel of the Colorado Avalanche.

In the three seasons the team has been under his watch, the perennial contenders reached the league final once, and were ousted in the first round twice, including a clean sweep this year against the Gatineau Olympiques.

Here he is while with the Kings, wearing their best-looking black (away) uniform, on the signed insert version of card #74 from Pinnacle Brands' 1996-97 Be A Player set:
He signed it in thin black sharpie... pretty much directly on the black jersey. Look for it, though, it's there!

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