Wild.com is reporting that Pierre-Marc Bouchard will make his return to the line-up Wednesday night.
Barring any setbacks in the next 24 hours, Head Coach Todd Richards will write Bouchard’s name on the Wild’s roster tomorrow night when the Phoenix Coyotes visit Xcel Energy Center.
Join me after the jump.
When the Wild had demoted Matt Kassian, leaving the team with only 11 forwards, speculation was that the team would call up a forward tomorrow or that Chuck Kobasew would be ready to return. The question as to who would fill that spot was answered today, however, when the team announced that Bouchard was cleared to play.
After scoring a career high 63 points is the 07-08 season, Bouchard dropped to 46 in 08-09. He also suffered a concussion on March 25 of that season in a game against the New York Islanders. Over the summer a new GM (Chuck Fletcher) was hired and the team sought to fill the 2nd line Center spot campaigning heavily to sign Saku Koivu. When he decided to go to Anaheim, the focus instead turned to Bouchard to see if he could handle the role. However it was not be as after only one game he was shut down for the season. Instead Kyle Brodziak and Andrew Ebbett got most of the playing time. This past summer the Wild managed to bring in Matt Cullen and John Madden meaning the team would not have to scramble to fill his spot if he couldn’t play. However while he may not be needed at center his skill is sorely needed.
Bouchard is a talented playmaker who has shown he can score goals as well. Although, like too many of his teammates, he seems to prefer to be a pass-first player. Also, despite his size, he had shown himself to be surprisingly durable missing only 3 games between 05-08. That was of course, until his concussion. Now after missing almost all of last season he finally makes his return. But, there is no guarantee what will happen from here. As Butch has already shown, concussions take a long time to recover from. Hopefully the long wait will stop a re-occurrence but the truth is this injury is something he will deal with the rest of his career. The NHL has already seen several talented players hang it up early do to concussions.
But for now this is great news- for Bouchard, for the Wild and for the fans. He brings all the things the Wild could use right now, speed, skill, and hopefully some motivation to get them out of their rut.
Video of the hit on Bouchard by Nate Thompson