Saturday, October 11, 2008

Pat Boutette

Pat Boutette enjoyed a fine 10-year NHL career with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Hartford Whalers and Pittsburgh Penguins. Although he stood at just 5'8" and 175lbs, "Booter" was a feisty right winger who was as good a play maker as he was a goal scorer.

He enjoyed a solid collegiate career with the University of Minnesota Golden Gophers which prompted the Toronto Maple Leafs to select the Windsor, Ontario native in the ninth round of the 1972 Draft. Being drafted by the Leafs was a dream come true for Boutette.

Boutette did not debut in Toronto until 1975-76. He still had 2 years of University left and then apprenticed in the minor leagues for two seasons with the Oklahoma City Blazers.

Pat was part of what would have been a spectacular youth movement by the Leafs, except they ended up trading away most of their young stars. Boutette team with names like Sittler, McDonald and Williams but soon enough all would be shipped out of town. Boutette was a checker and penalty killer for the Leafs, often teaming up with the extremely physical line of Jerry Butler and Jim Jones.

In his first 4 season with the Leafs, Pat was a consistent 15 (or so) goal scorer and 35 point getter. However in his 5th campaign with the Leafs, which would prove to be his last, he slumped terribly picking up only 4 assists in 32 games. The bad start prompted the Leafs to trade him to Hartford where he finished the season strongly with 44 points in 47 games.

“When I went to Hartford, I hated to leave the Leafs and I think my heart is still with the Leafs,” he said. “But at least I got a chance to play a little more hockey and I think it extended my career by going on somewhere else.”

In fact, Boutette ended up enjoying his finest season in the NHL with the Whalers as he potted 28 goals, 52 assists and 80 points in his second year with Hartford. His stay in the Insurance City was short though. When the Whalers signed restricted Penguins free agent Greg Malone, the NHL announced both Pat and Kevin McClelland would go to Pittsburgh as compensation.

Pat would return to Hartford after 3 solid seasons in Pittsburgh, including a 74 point season. However when Boutette returned he was obviously near the end of his career, and in fact finished the season and his career in the minor leagues.

Boutette left the NHL with career totals of 171 goals, 282 assists and 453 points in 756 regular season games. In 46 career playoff contests, he had 24 points.

While he fulfilled his childhood dream to play for his beloved Leafs, his short tenure in Hartford proved to be one of his finest memories. He became more of an offensive player and had more ice time, plus he go to play with Dave Keon, Bobby Hull and Gordie Howe, all childhood idols of his.


K-Mark said...

Great write-up but one correction should be made. Pat Boutette did not play for the Univ. of Minnesota Golden Gophers. Rather, it was the Univ. of Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs.

Anonymous said...

My dad taught Pat Boutette at FJ Brennan HS in Windsor, Ontario. Pat never forgot his hometown fans - whenever we went up to T.O. to see the Leafs play, Pat would invite us to join him to watch practice before the games and then to meet his teammates and the opposing stars after the games. It was a real treat that I will never forget.
He was also an inspiration for his perseverance and determination. Though I hated to see him traded out of Toronto for selfish reasons, I was proud to see how well he performed in Hartford and Pittsburgh.

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