Bobby Butler is aiming for another NHL shot

Author: Lenny Megliiola,
Date: Aug 15, 2017

Fancy jerseys Bobby Butler’s got. One from every hockey team he’s played for.

The range is impressive. An Ottawa Senators jersey and a New Jersey Devils one. A Florida Panthers jersey and one from Nizhny Novgorod Torpedo, a Russian team. A Boston Junior Bruins pullover and a San Antonio Rampage one.

You get the point. A dirty dozen in all. Five countries, 12 teams.

“All the jerseys are framed,” said Butler.

Oops, make it 13. Butler has signed on to play for the Milwaukee Admirals of the American Hockey League. The team is an affiliate of the Nashville Predators who Butler, a right wing blaster from Marlborough, played 20 games for in the 2012-13 lockout season, scoring three goals with six assists.

Butler’s 30 now, with a wife, Lisa, and two young kids. He played in Russia and Croatia the last two years. The wish now is to stay stateside for the rest of his career. But he knows more than most do that there are no guarantees. He’ll report to Predators’ training camp Sept. 14. Step One.

“He’s my kid, so it would be good to have him back (in the U.S.),” said John Butler, Bobby’s father who coached him at Marlborough High.

Overseas Butler played for two different teams last season in the competitive Kontinental League. “It’s as close as you can get to the NHL,” said Butler. In 50 games he had seven goals and 14 assists.

“It’s a very good league, very professional,” said Butler. “The language barrier was tough. There was only one other American on the team.”

Language unfamiliarity won’t be a problem at the Predators camp. Much more difficult will be trying to impress the brass of the team that went to the Stanley Cup Finals last season.

“I’ve been working out hard all summer. If I’m lucky I’ll get to play in some preseason games,” said Butler. “You never know what can happen. I’ll take what I can, control what I can control.”

Making the Predators out of camp will be a huge challenge. Butler’s quest is to show enough on the ice to leave an impression, then play solidly for the Admirals.

“The Predators can always call him up,” said Butler’s dad. “It’d be a nice way to end his career with the team that went to the Finals last year.”

Not that Bobby Butler has any thoughts of retiring yet. “I still love the game,” he said, but conceded to “going year-by-year now.”

In Europe the ice surface is bigger than in the U.S. “I’m excited to be back on the small sheet,” said Butler. “It changes the dynamic of the game.” And Butler’s game? “I’m a shooter.”

Butler worked with Admirals general manager Paul Fenton on the contract. “I told him, ‘Thanks for having me.’ It should be fun.” Currently, Fenton is just trying to find Butler a place to live in the Milwaukee area.

Butler’s memories of his overseas hockey are mostly pleasant ones. “It was something I wanted to try. It was a new experience. I met a lot of good people. I wouldn’t change anything.”

Butler was born into a hockey life. He led Marlborough high to a state championship in his senior year. It brought his dad to tears. “Playing for my dad was awesome. He told me what it would take. He gave me the tools.” John Butler was always there, a hockey man with a special hockey son.

It was halfway through his four-year career at New Hampshire that Butler started to think there could be more hockey for him, and that he could get paid for playing the game he cherished.. In his junior year, 2009-10, Butler had 29 goals and 24 assists. The light went on.

Of all the hockey landings Butler has made, one of the more curious was his time with the AHL San Antonio Rampage. Now, for a Boston kid hockey in San Antonio might seem like, well, an exaggeration. Butler had two stints with the team, scoring a total of 49 goals and 57 assists. “It was awesome there,” said Butler. “The fans were great. They were top five the league) in attendance.”

Rampage fever? Besides, how many Marlborough homeboys have a Rampage jersey?

Anyway, if the clock is ticking on Butler’s hockey life, wherever it leads, he knows one thing: “I definitely would like to stay in hockey. Who knows, maybe I’ll coach Marlborough High. I just love going to a rink.”

No explanation needed.

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