Few players with as careers as undistinguished as Jesse Boulerice’s have generated as much attention as the troublesome hitter did during his limited hockey career. Then again, few managed to become repeat offenders for such ugly incidents in such a concentrated amount of time – and few retired in as strange a way as Boulerice did last week.
Puck Daddy shares his strange retirement announcement, which came through a Facebook message from his wife Jacqueline (who also advertised her new business in the process). Boulerice finished his career with the AHL’s Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, but most people will remember him for his suspension-filled career.
His final impression for many fans came when he received a 10-game suspension for landing a small hit on a referee during an AHL game. While that move was dumb enough, his worst moments of violence made him a notoriously bad apple. He was even charged with assault in 1998 after hitting Andrew Long in the face with his stick. That wasn’t the only time he used his stick in an ugly way, however, as he also received a 25-game suspension for cross-checking Ryan Kesler in the face on October 10, 2007.
Many in the hockey world will probably utter a sigh of relief that Boulerice is out of the picture, even if someone else will likely step into his place (though probably not with the same splashy results). Hopefully Boulerice will find a way to make a more positive impact with his next job, but if nothing else, he’ll leave his playing days behind in a memorable and odd way.
Every sport has athletes who develop reputations for being bad apples. In the NFL, NBC’s own Rodney Harrison consistently delivered hits that rode the borderline of legality. Recently retired hothead (or, as Charles Barkley would call him, “spothead”) Rasheed Wallace re-wrote the NBA’s technical foul record books.
Hockey is a violent, fast-paced sport, so it’s no surprise that the NHL has its fair share of ne’er do wells. From former players such as Chris Simon to current knuckleheads such as Steve Downie, there are some guys who consistently work outside the fringe of what is rough play and what is unacceptable.
It makes sense that Jesse Boulerice was once in the Philadelphia Flyers system* because the forward earned a reputation for not bending or breaking but rather shattering the rules. There are two major occasions in which he used his hockey stick in a way it wasn’t intended, including an ugly cross-check on Ryan Kesler that generated the worst kind of attention for the sport.
The perennial headache is once again making headlines for his buffoonery, as the AHL handed a 10-game suspension to Boulerice for his foolish choice to mildly check a referee in the heat of action. You can see video of that check in that link.
I’m sorry, but there comes a point in which it’s tough to justify the existence of players such as Boulerice. Playing with a physical edge is one thing; endangering just about everyone on the ice with your idiocy rather than physical strength is a whole other thing entirely. How much will it take for him to get a lifetime ban from professional hockey? At least chronic bonehead Downie can say that he brings considerable offensive skill to the table; Boulerice cannot make such claims.
* – He’s currently in the Pittsburgh Penguins system, playing for the AHL’s Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins. For now, at least.