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Brian Boucher

Brian Boucher

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Brian Boucher was a fiery and emotional kid when he was drafted by the Flyers with the team's first pick in the 1995 entry draft.

And when he took the starter's job from John Vanbiesbrouck and led the Flyers to the 2000 Eastern Conference finals against New Jersey, he developed into a fan favorite and a world-beater in net.

But the emotion and youth that made him such a determined competitor became his undoing in his first year as a full-time starter.

He not only lost out to Roman Cechmanek the next season, but ended up being traded after helping lead a revolt against his then head coach, Bill Barber, at the end of the 2002 playoffs.

Barber was fired, but Boucher was also banished, sent to Phoenix for Michal Handzus, Robert Esche and draft picks.

It was the beginning of a long trek through the NHL and the minors, a trip that included a brief stop with the Phantoms 2 year ago, and finally has led him home again.

Boucher, 32, was signed yesterday to a 2-year-deal worth $1.8 million a year, bringing him from San Jose and completing a total revamping of the Flyers' goaltending.

The Flyers have a new starter in Ray Emery, a new backup in Boucher, and eventually will have a new goalie coach when they hire someone to replace Reggie Lemelin, whose contract was not renewed.

Holmgren and Boucher both believe Boucher is older, wiser and a better goalie.

"When I was in Philly before, I was a young guy still learning and success came early.

I wouldn't trade the success for anything, but I'll tell you I wasn't ready to deal with it,'' said Boucher, a native of Rhode Island.

"I wasn't ready to be a number one goalie at that time.

I think in a sense it kind of set me back the next couple of years.

It took me a while to learn the position, the ups and downs of the position.

And now what, 10, 12 years later, I do feel like I am a better goaltender.

"Sometimes you don't have the results to prove it but deep down inside I feel like I am a better goalie than I was then.'' And being back in the city that first embraced him makes it all feel worthwhile.

"It's going to be great,'' he said.

"I've always loved Philly.

Being drafted by the Flyers, they were very good to me.

Paul Holmgren was very good to me, giving me a chance to come back a couple of year ago and play in the minors to get my game back and then allowing me to go to San Jose and get back to the National Hockey League.

"I love Philadelphia, the excitement.

There is nothing like playoff hockey in Philadelphia and hopefully, we have the team and the pieces to come out of the Eastern Conference and challenge for a Stanley Cup." *

http://www.philly.com/dailynews/sports/20090702_Boucher_back_with_Flyers__where_he_made_his_name.html
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