As we all know, the Wild were very active on Friday night once all the free agent madness had settled down. Something that got lost in translation on that day, was the New York Islanders signing of Pierre-Marc Bouchard.
Bouchard was the Wild's first round draft pick (eighth overall) back in the 2002 draft. He made his NHL debut during the 2002-03 season and has been locked into a spot on the team ever since.
During the pre-concussion era, Butch (as his teammates called him) was one of the top setup guys in the Western Conference. Between his hands, feet, and vision on the ice, Bouchard was a player you loved to watch. You never knew what he was going to do to electrify the crowd on a nightly basis.
Late in the 2008-09 season, Bouchard took a nasty hit while the team was playing the Islanders. He missed the team's remaining games that season, and with the exception of the season opener in 2009-10, was never seen again until December of 2010. He had suffered a nasty concussion. And ever since, he really has not been the same.
In the post-concussion era, Bouchard has never registered more than 26 points in a season. He never looked comfortable on the ice and his performance suffered. He never went to the net, and he never tried to deke around a player for the sake of not getting hit. Everything he had been great at, seemingly had been taken away.
As he departs to Long Island now, Butch finished his Wild career ranking 2nd all time in assists (241) and 3rd in points (347). Had he never suffered that concussion, one could safely assume he would be number one in both those columns.
In an interview with the Star Tribune's Michael Russo yesterday, Butch gave many thanks to the organization and the fans as he heads East. Here are some quotes from Bouchard.
"Most of all, I just want to thank the Wild organization for all those years and the fans, my friends over there. They gave me a lot of support for all those years, and it was a great time. We really enjoyed our time in Minnesota – my teammates and all the staff that work for the team. It was a great run.
"Minnesota will always be a special place for me."
Thank you Butch. You will always be a special player to us.