“I’ve seen the old videos from the parades (when the Boston Bruins won titles in ‘70 & ’72) back when they were held at City Hall Plaza. You definitely don’t want to put the horse before the cart, but you can’t help but think what the celebration would entail. They would have to break out the duck boats.”
— Dave Goucher, May 2009
The art of predicting is not to be tampered with. Yet there was Dave Goucher, singling out the duck boats – Boston’s official means of transporting champions – as seconds remained in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup finals.
“Get the duck boats ready! Get the duck boats ready! After 39 long years the Cup is back home! The Bruins are the 2011 Stanley Cup champions!”
Goucher’s radio call on 98.5 The Sports Hub placed everything in proper context. To New Englanders, it was preview of coming attractions – expect a parade because the Bruins had ended a long and frustrating championship drought. As he finished up his title-clinching remarks, Goucher paused, another shining example of how he understood the totality of the moment.
The Bruins had just reached the top of Mount Stanley, the perfect bright-red maraschino cherry to top off a playoff run that was remarkable on many levels. Goucher opted to give the audience a few seconds to soak in and digest the fact that the Cup wait was over before resuming his broadcasting duties.
Instead of defining the moment, Goucher, a native of Pawtucket and a graduate of Tolman High, chose to let the moment define him.
“I started to think a little about [how to paint the picture with the right words] on the morning of Game 7. If the Bruins win it, they’ll have a huge celebration. Over the last 10 years, that means you get on the duck boats,” Goucher was saying earlier this week. “I’m not a big fan of having those things scripted out; I think people can tell. I prefer raw, much more off-the-cuff.”
Like the players, Goucher, now in his 11th year calling games for the Bruins, feels fortunate he was able to reach the summit of his profession.
“You never know how often these opportunities will present themselves. You hope to get one of these moments in your career. To have one in my career now and with the Bruins, I consider myself extremely lucky,” he said.
Mike “Doc” Emrick did a fine job on the television side for NBC and VERSUS, yet it wasn’t his job to specifically cater to Bruins fans. Goucher’s salute is the one that will live on forever when recounting this special run. It’s easy to see why. Goucher is the hometown play-by-play guy who provided the local flavor while Emrick served as the national narrator.
“People have emailed me, sending incredible audio highlight montages. Not just from Game 7, but from the entire playoff run,” Goucher said when asked if he’s received any feedback from arguably the defining moment of his radio career. “I had a chance to listen to the call on my laptop on the flight home from Vancouver. It gives you goosebumps. Even though I’m the guy talking, it almost seems like someone else is talking.”
When the Bruins stage a reunion for the 2011 champs down the road, chances are Goucher’s call will be dusted off and serve as the headliner for whatever type of assemblage takes place.
“It’s almost hard to wrap my mind around that,” responded Goucher when broached about said topic. “I’m a fan of other broadcasters and as a kid I remember Johnny Most, Ned Martin and Bob Wilson and some of their big calls. I certainly don’t put myself in that category, but I remember what they said. Those words find a way to live on forever. If that’s the case here, that would be great. I’m just happy that at the end of the day that it went well.”
It’s unknown if the Elias Sports Bureau keeps track of such matters, hence why we select “rare” to describe the company Goucher finds himself in. Not too often do you run across a radio announcer who’s been at the controls for both a Stanley Cup and a Calder Cup winner, Goucher serving as the voice of the latter with the Providence Bruins in 1999.
At the very least it’s a conversation starter, making championship calls for two teams under the same organizational umbrella.
“Most of us working in the minor leagues are just hoping to land a job in the NHL,” said Goucher, retracing his steps. “I was fortunate to land a job with my hometown teams, first with Providence and later the team I grew up listening to and watching in Boston. For the longest time the Calder Cup was the only one. I was certainly proud of that moment, but to add this to the overall picture is too good to be true.”
Such elation carried over from the broadcasting booth to the jubilant scene inside the Bruins locker room. Not only did Goucher get to press his fingers against Lord Stanley, but he was able to experience the rush of hoisting the 35-pound shiny goblet into the air – albeit closer to sea level in relation to Zdeno Chara, Boston’s 6-foot-9 inch defenseman.
“It was the first time I had ever touched it,” Goucher said. “To have a chance to do that in that locker room where it was just chaos, it was just phenomenal.”
Of course there’s one lingering question: will Goucher get a day with the Stanley Cup? If so, is Pawtucket the logical destination to bring it?
“I don’t know that, it’s to be determined,” laughed Goucher, who boarded a duck boat at Saturday’s rolling rally parade through the streets of Boston.
Rest assured that Goucher has already kept up his end of the bargain – that of providing Bruins followers with a call that precisely captured the joyous scene that was unfolding before his eyes.