Friday night was meant to serve as a big step in the right direction for Ottawa Senators prospect Tyler Boucher, as he made his Ontario Hockey League Debut with the Ottawa 67’s. However, it ended up being anything but. After a month of hype and expectations, he finally hit the ice in Sudbury as the 67’s took on the Wolves. His debut was cut short, however, and now, Boucher, the 67’s, and the Senators will be hitting the drawing board once again.
Boucher’s Long Awaited Debut
Boucher’s OHL debut has been something that has been a long time coming. He signed with the Senators on Dec. 29th, just a couple of days after Christmas. It seemed like a late Christmas gift for both 67’s fans who were going to get an impact player delivered to their roster, and for Sens fans who were going to have the ability to watch their high draft choice play locally as he continued to develop.
After signing with the Senators, it was announced that Boucher would be heading off to the 67’s as soon as a couple of hurdles were cleared. There was the one massive issue right off the bat for Boucher; his COVID diagnosis. He was unable to enter Canada until Jan. 6 and was forced to wait around for about a week after signing. Another issue, of course, was the OHL itself having issues with COVID as the Omicron variant spread rapidly around the country. Games were being postponed left, right, and centre around the league, and there were questions about if the OHL would continue their season or not, especially after the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League suspended their season until February.
Once Boucher arrived in Canada, he was assigned to the Belleville Senators of the American Hockey League before finally being sent to the 67’s on Jan. 10. To many, this signaled the start of his career in the barber pole, but that wasn’t to be. Boucher would miss more time as he continued to rehab from an undisclosed injury that was said to be relatively minor by general manager James Boyd. After nearly a month of hype building, Boucher finally got to hit the ice on Friday night in Sudbury.
Boucher Can’t Catch a Break
Boucher’s debut was off to a pretty good start. He started the game on a line with Thomas Johnston and Alex Johnston and was immediately double-shifted by head coach Dave Cameron. He was moving his feet, he was hard on the forecheck, and he made some smart plays that produced some chances early in the contest. Just under 12 minutes into the game, however, Boucher went for a hit on Wolves’ forward Dominik Jendek and came up holding his shoulder. When he returned to the bench, Boucher headed back to the locker room where he would remain the rest of the game. His 67’s debut was over after just a handful of shifts.
Once again, this gave Senators fans on social media the opportunity to call Boucher a bust as well as injury prone and various other insulting things. This injury is just another pothole in the road for him, but it’s starting to feel like the road is just one big pothole at this point. As soon as something goes Boucher’s way, there’s some kind of black magic force there to steal it away from him.
From a 67’s standpoint, the team has already been cursed with injuries to key players including Jack Beck, who has been out the majority of the season. This is not unlike the Senators this season who have seen Shane Pinto out for an extended period of time. Injuries are a part of sports, but the frequency at which the 67’s, Senators, and Boucher himself have been suffering these setbacks this season, is insane. It’s frustrating for the fans, but for the players, it’s worse. For Boucher, this was supposed to be a chance to prove his doubters wrong, but he can’t catch a break.
What’s Next For Boucher and the 67’s?
There hasn’t yet been an update for what exactly Boucher’s injury is or how long it could keep him out for, but that’s not something fans should expect too much clarity on considering how tight-lipped the 67’s have been regarding injuries this season. On the ice, there wasn’t a massive impact or anything that would make you think the injury was really bad, but Boucher reaching for his shoulder immediately after and leaving the game is quite concerning.
There’s no point to speculate what the injury could be, even an experienced doctor would have a difficult time knowing what it is from the view we had. Without knowing what the injury is, there are two options going forward. One, this could be a minor injury and Boucher will be back in short order, possibly even on Sunday afternoon against the North Bay Battalion. On the flip side, if this injury is serious, things get a little bit more complicated.
If things are serious, Boucher will once again be forced to work his way back into the lineup. It’s also likely that the Senators would want to be a part of the decision-making process. If this is the case, all parties involved will have no choice but to make sure Boucher is back to 100 percent health before he comes back onto the ice. This hurts Boucher in his development and it hurts the 67’s in the immediate future. All anyone can do at this point is hope that this was nothing but precaution and that he will be back in the lineup soon enough.
The Beat Goes On
No matter how long Boucher will be out of the lineup, the show must go on for the 67’s. They have been battling the injury bug the entire season, so this is nothing new to them. There’s not a single person who is a fan of either team that is happy with Boucher going down with an injury, and of course, Boucher himself will be wondering what he has to do for something to go his way, but it’s far too early to hit the panic button.
Currently a journalism student at Algonquin College in Ottawa, I have always had a passion for the OHL and the Ottawa 67’s in particular. I have been attending games since I was young, and being involved with sports has always been a dream of mine. Sports writing fits perfectly into that. You can also find me talking and writing other sports (primarily Canadian football) on my website 13thmansports.ca!