Bobby Butler has played for 11 hockey teams in nine years.
Ottawa Senators. Binghamton Senators. New Jersey Devils. Albany Devils. Zagreb. Nizhny.
On Monday, the 30-year-old journeyman forward was named to another team — the Olympic team. When the NHL passed on these Olympics, the path opened for players like Butler.
Then came the moment when Butler broke the news to his dad. At a hockey rink, of course.
John Butler coached Marlborough (Mass.) High’s hockey team for 25 years, including five seasons with Bobby on the squad, before retiring in 2011.
“He told me what it would take,” Butler said in August, according to the MetroWest Daily News in Massachusetts. “He gave me the tools.”
In 2005, Marlborough won its first state title with Butler scoring four goals in the championship game at TD Garden (then still known as the Fleet Center). John was reportedly in tears.
”He’s been on the phone ever since the game ended,” Butler said that day, according to the Boston Globe, which reported that he passed up playing at a prep school to suit up for his dad. “He gets five e-mails every 10 minutes from old Panthers. Everyone knows what this means to him.”
Bobby Butler went on to the University of New Hampshire. He was a finalist for the NCAA men’s hockey player of the year award in 2010. He signed a two-year contract with the Ottawa Senators.
He played 92 NHL games those first two full seasons. Then he started to bounce among NHL teams and between the NHL and the AHL.
After three seasons, Butler moved to Sweden’s top league. Then to Russia’s KHL.
He returned to the U.S. this year, reportedly saying he wanted to spend the rest of his career at home with his wife and two sons.
Butler leads the Milwaukee Admirals — a Nashville Predators affiliate — with 13 goals and 25 points this season.
He will soon return to playing overseas, but he relishes this opportunity.
He played for Team USA at the 2013 World Championship, but in February he will do so at the Olympics for the first time.
“What an honor — I’m still a bit surprised, but I’m certainly humbled by making the roster and excited about the opportunity,” Butler said, according to the Worcester (Mass.) Telegram & Gazette. “Just knowing I was on the list for consideration was an honor, but to actually make the final roster is unreal.”
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