Thursday

Dan Bouchard

Patrick Roy's brilliance in nets, especially while with the Montreal Canadiens, established himself as the hero of a generation Quebecois goaltenders.

But did you ever wonder who served as Patrick Roy's idol?

The answer would be Dan Bouchard, a fiery goaltender out of Val d'Or, Quebec best remembered for playing with the Atlanta Flames and later the Quebec Nordiques. Interestingly Roy's first ever NHL shutout came with Bouchard playing at the other end of the ice.

From an early age Dan Bouchard wanted to be a professional hockey player, just like his father. George Bouchard played defense in the American Hockey League, most notably with the Cleveland Barons and Eddie Shore's Springfield Indians. He quit in 1960 and returned to Quebec to raise his family. George would take a job laboring at a brewery for the next 25 years.

The elder Bouchard always kept hockey close to him. In fact he died while playing a recreational game. He passed on his love of hockey to his family. Dan and brother Guy would both make it to the pros as goaltenders, although only Dan would enjoy a NHL career.

Dan first caught NHL attention as a junior. In 1968-69 he captured the Jacques Plante trophy for lowest GAA while leading the QMJHL's Sorel Black Hawks to a Memorial Cup experience. He would switch to London of the Ontario League the following year before being drafted by the Boston Bruins drafted him 27th overall in 1970.

The next two years Bouchard spent apprenticing in the minor leagues. The Bruins were deep in nets with the likes of Gerry Cheevers and Eddie Johnstone, so they allowed Bouchard proper time to hone his craft. But Bouchard was in a hurry, and set the league on its head while leading the league in wins and shutouts and leading the Boston Braves to a regular season title in 1971-72.

Bouchard would never get a chance to play in Boston. The NHL expanded and in the summer of 1972 the Atlanta Flames were quick to select the hot goalie prospect in the 1972 NHL Expansion Draft. He would go on to become synonymous with Atlanta hockey, and one of their key players.

Bouchard very well may have been the most important player in the short history of the Atlanta Flames. With his effective butterfly stance he was able to post very respectable numbers during the regular season, including a league best 32 wins in 1978-79, but the team was never able to garner any post season success. That fact probably will forever separate Dan Bouchard from the other elite goalies of his era. He holds practically every significant goaltender record in Atlanta Flames history.

Though he was and still remains a fan favorite in Atlanta, he was not always a favorite of his teammates and coaches. He was very fiery, very argumentative and admittedly too cocky. He quickly gained a reputation as a troublemaker and a poor leader. He never warmed himself to the media either, often ducking interviews. In many ways Bouchard was his own worst enemy.

Through it all, even the franchise's relocation to Calgary, Dan Bouchard remained the Flames goalie. That changed soon after the team's arrival in Alberta. He was playing less frequently and he was frustrated with what he called communication problems with the team. As the team left on a two week road trip, Bouchard was left behind and told to wait for a trade.

That wait may have been the best thing that ever happened to Dan Bouchard. Even though he was spiraling into a deep depression, he quickly found his salvation in the bible. He had always attended church as a kid, in the same way many of us did - reluctantly. But now he was actually reading the scriptures and suddenly finding inner piece.

This turn around was all rather quick in happening. Before the Flames' returned from their road trip Bouchard began practicing with a Calgary area junior team. Soon enough he found he was traded to the Quebec Nordiques.

From 1981 through 1985 Dan Bouchard was the Nords top goaltender. Again, playoff success was not to be found, and his numbers ballooned like most goalies in the high scoring 1980s. But armed with a new found inner peace, Bouchard enjoyed his time in Quebec.

The Nordiques brought in young Mario Gosselin in 1985, pushing Bouchard back to the sidelines. He would play another year in the NHL with Winnipeg before a short stint in Switzerland in 1986-87. He would retire and relocate back to Georgia.

Nowadays Dan Bouchard, along with former Bruins star Cam Neely, has invested into a credit card processing business. He also remains very active in hockey, teaching hockey to kids in Atlanta.

8 comments:

don,  2:57 PM  

that was a nice write-up on dan.was my hero growing up.meet him in london. ont.he signed my photo's of him and got my photo with him.was a very nice personand willing to talk.

Anonymous,  1:12 PM  

An exceptionally nice article about Dan Bouchard. I adored the man as the Flames goalie here in Atlanta, and swore he had 'ball-bearings' for knees!
While the Thrashers are okay, none could ever take Bouchard's place!
gilliansl

John Gelmon,  9:26 PM  

Correction, Dan Bouchard had playoff success in Quebec. The Nordiques went to the Wales Conference finals in 1982 and in 1984 he stood out against Buffalo in the first round, leading the Nordiques to a series victory.

John Gelmon

Mike35,  8:52 PM  

I'm good friends with Mario Gosselin, and he introduced me to Dan. He's kind of an aloof guy, but funny. Very tall. He reminded me of David McCallum who played Illya Kuryakin on the Man From U.N.C.L.E...

John Gelmon,  10:50 PM  

I don't believe Dan Bouchard ever played for the Calgary Flames. I remember hearing that when the Atlanta Flames were moving to Calgary they were not going to take Bouchard with them.

I also remember that years after retiring from hockey he recovered from a brain tumour and later played in a Montreal Canadiens vs. Quebec Nordiques two-game oldtimers' series on Easter weekend in 2003.

Anonymous,  5:04 PM  

Calgary Flame stats for Dan Bouchard:

1980-81 Calgary Flames NHL 14gp 760mins 51ga 4.03gaa w4 l:5 t:3

Anonymous,  7:51 PM  

Hello.

My name is Matt from Wake Forest, NC.

I grew up in Atlanta, having been though I was born in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. As a result of growing up in the south in the
1970's, I never really got to play hockey, but was a HUGE fan of the sport. I am now 40 years old. Dan Bouchard was, and remains, my All-Time favorite sports hero! I claim to be the only kid in Atlanta to have cried when the Flames were sold and moved to Calgary. I was 10. I still have an auto'd stick of his hanging in my 'man cave', as well as a photo of us that was taken at a "Majik Market Photo with the Flames Night". I'd love to know where Dan is now so I can send him a letter.

Thanks for this story on my All-Time favorite sports hero! The Great Dan Bouchard!

Sincerely,
Matt

Alan Truex 2:24 PM  

As a sportswriter with the Atlanta Journal Constitution who covered the Flames, I would argue with anyone saying Dan Bouchard was uncooperative with the media. I thought he was one of the most media-friendly of any professional atheltes I met during two decades of covering the NHL, NFL, NBA and major league baseball. -- Alan Truex.

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