GLENS FALLS -- When Brian Boucher heard that the NHL and NHLPA came to a tentative agreement on Jan. 6, he, like other NHL players, was excited and figured he could get back to his job — goaltender for the Charlotte Hurricanes.
That’s not what happened, however.
The team told him to stay put in New Jersey, indicating an intention to trade him.
When the lockout officially ended a week later, he was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers, a team he spent three stints with and that is near his family’s home. He left his son’s youth hockey game and headed to the practice facility to get a workout in. But then, the Flyers told Boucher he was headed to the AHL and to the Adirondack Phantoms. Wednesday, he practiced with the Phantoms.
That’s a busy week and a half, and it’s not technically over yet.
What’s left is more of a formality than anything else, but Boucher must clear waivers before he can officially be assigned to the Phantoms. He was placed on waivers Wednesday afternoon, and the other 29 teams in the NHL have 24 hours to claim him. So, not until Thursday afternoon can he officially be added to the Phantoms’ roster.
“It’s been crazy,” Boucher said. “You’re hoping the lockout ends, it ends and you’re excited. Then you find out that you’re not really in the plans of the team that you were with. Then you don’t really know what’s going on. Then you get picked up by the team that you used to play for three different times, and then you’re told that you’re going to the minors. So, all ups and downs and all around.”
The lockout is an unusual factor, but being traded, sent down, called up or even waived outright is all part of being a professional. Now that Boucher has landed with a team, assuming no one claims him off waivers, Boucher is just ready to play hockey.
Since he wasn’t in the AHL in October, Boucher hasn’t been in a real hockey situation since April. He skated with five or six guys in the Philadelphia area during the lockout, but that isn’t the same as practicing with a team or playing in games.
Boucher said it was nice to have a number of breaks in Wednesday’s practice as head coach Terry Murray walked the team through the drills — it allowed him to catch his breath.
Having three goaltenders is not new to Murray, but he said it’s definitely not ideal.
Boucher and Cal Heeter will be the two primary goaltenders for the foreseeable future, and Scott Munroe will sit at number three. Munroe will take shots before practice and sub in on a few drills, but for the most part he will sit out.
“It has to work, you make it work,” Murray said. “You gotta have two goaltenders that are going to be ready to play. Brian Boucher is here to get ready to play games in the NHL, so he’ll be in the net in practice and we’ll get him into games as soon as he gets comfortable. And same thing with Heeter.”
Murray also said the decision to go with Heeter over Munroe was not performance-based. The rookie will get more out of continuing to practice and play, and from practicing alongside Boucher, who has played 324 NHL games in his 15-year professional career.
“(Heeter is) a young goaltender who came in playing his first year of pro hockey, and we’re going to keep going with him,” Murray said. “Hopefully, there’s a breakthrough where he becomes that goalie that’s in the NHL and performing the same way, that’s what the process is.”
Murray and Munroe had a long conversation Tuesday afternoon about the decrease in ice time. Murray said he was just candid and laid it out for the eight-year veteran, who understood.
Munroe has been in a three-goalie situation once prior, the first few weeks of the 2009 season with Bridgeport.
“It sucked,” he said on Monday. “Sharing a net and rotating, playing every third game, it’s hard, especially halfway through the year. It’s hard.”
Munroe may still see a few more games, while Boucher gets back into game shape. Boucher said he was just going to have to take it day-by-day and see how long it takes him, since he doesn’t even have the shortened training camp that other previously-locked out players have.
Loose pucks: The Flyers reassigned left wing Tye McGinn and defenseman Tyler Hostetter to the Phantoms. McGinn was recalled for the Flyers’ training camp Sunday and was returned to the Phantoms on Wednesday afternoon. Hostetter was reassigned to Trenton in the ECHL for one game Wednesday. He tallied an assist on the overtime game-winner for Trenton in Wednesday’s game and promptly was sent back to the Phantoms. ... The Flyers placed defenseman Andreas Lilja on waivers with the intention of sending him to the Phantoms. Lilja skated with the Phantoms for a couple days earlier this season, while recovering from hip surgery.