When Dave Goucher, the Boston Bruins radio play-by-play announcer, woke up on January 6 to 10 text messages, he only needed to read one to know that the overflow of notes were telling him he’d soon be back in the booth for his 13th season calling Bruins hockey games.
An agreement in principle between the National Hockey League and the NHL Players Association was reached early that morning while Goucher was asleep in his Milton home. The new collective bargaining agreement was ratified on January 12, ending the 119-day labor dispute and marking the beginning of a condensed schedule that starts Saturday, January 19 for the Bruins.
Goucher, who calls games with former Bruin Bob Beers on 98.5 The Sports Hub, is employed by CBS Radio, but travels, both on charter flights and buses, with the team and stays in the team hotel on road trips.
His time away from the ice was spent doing projects at home and taking on different radio roles. Goucher guest hosted different sports talk shows on The Sports Hub. With little hockey to talk about, Goucher, who was the play-by-play voice of the AHL Providence Bruins for five years prior to his stint in Boston, branched out with commentary on the New England Patriots, Boston Red Sox and Boston Celtics. The role wasn’t difficult for Goucher to fill.
“I’m a sports fan in general,” said Goucher, adding “I try to be as versatile as possible.”
During the time off, Goucher was approached by fans, who missed the game and were frustrated about the lockout.
“I understand that,” Goucher said. “I told people I was in the same boat with them.”
Throughout the talks between the league and the NHLPA, which seemed close to resolution several times, Goucher said he followed the “roller coaster.”
Like fans, the veteran broadcaster expressed frustration. “It’s ridiculous it took this long, again,” Goucher said.
This lockout was not Goucher’s first, as he endured the labor strife that cost the NHL the entire 2004-2005 season.
At that time, Bruins games were broadcast on WBZ AM 1030, and Goucher found a variety of roles to fill while the lights were out at the TD Garden.
While there was no hockey, that layoff was still plenty busy for a Boston sports reporter. That year, Goucher did features on the Red Sox first World Series victory in 86 years and the Patriots third Super Bowl win in four seasons. He also called the Boston Marathon for WBZ radio.
Goucher now faces the task of preparing for a 48-game season that will be condensed into less than four months. In non-lockout years, the 82-game regular season runs from October through April.
The condensed regular season schedule means less travel for the Bruins, as they will only play Eastern Conference teams. It also helps Goucher, who only has to prepare for 14 other opponents, not 29.
He also has the benefit of experience. “It’s not like I’m starting from zero,” Goucher said, explaining he’s becoming familiar with some roster moves, but has knowledge of most NHL players.
Goucher and Beers had their first chance to call a Bruins game since last year’s NHL playoffs, on Tuesday night, when Boston hosted the Providence Bruins in the annual Black and Gold scrimmage.
“For a dry run, it was decent enough,” Goucher said of announcing the 7-5 Providence win at the TD Garden.
Dave Goucher can be heard on 98.5 FM during each Boston Bruins game.
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