- The Washington Times - Monday, September 19, 2011

Bruce Boudreau had barely turned 30 years old when he came back to North America after 29 games in Germany. His timing on that return was excellent.

It was February 1985, and Boudreau joined the Baltimore Skipjacks of the American Hockey League, who were just starting something special.

“I think the day I got there, they started on a 16-game winning streak,” Boudreau said. “Everything was pretty cool because you get there, and you’re doing nothing but winning.”

That was the AHL record until the Philadelphia Phantoms won 17 straight in 2004.

But that doesn’t spoil Boudreau’s thoughts of his time with the Skipjacks.

“My memories are nothing but fabulous,” he said. “It was an older team. There was no rookie-type thing. I had an awful lot of friends on the team. When you’re winning and you’re playing with older guys and they’re friends of yours, it was pretty cool.”

Boudreau played 17 regular-season games (four goals, seven assists) with Baltimore and 12 in the playoffs (three goals, nine assists) en route to a Calder Cup finals appearance. The Capitals’ coach remembers the crowds at 1st Mariner Arena being “loud” despite numbering maybe between 3,000 and 4,000 during the season and 5,000 to 6,000 in the finals.

The roster included Bob Errey, Marty McSorley, Andy Brickley and Phil Bourque, who went on to have solid NHL careers.

But that pales in comparison to the group that beat the Skipjacks in the finals, the Sherbrooke Canadiens.

“We lost against a guy by the name of Patrick Roy and Stephane Richer, and the team in Sherbrooke that beat us ended up I think nine of those 10 guys graduated to the [Montreal] Canadiens next year that won the Cup,” Boudreau said. “There was a lot of good Montreal Canadiens that beat us the last year I played there.”

Roy and Richer, Brian Skrudland, Mike Lalor, Randy Bucyk, Serge Boisvert and others made the leap from the Calder Cup to the Stanley Cup. But after being beaten by the best, Boudreau was all smiles talking about his time in Baltimore and happy to be taking his team there for an exhibition game Tuesday night.

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