Dallas Stars Philippe Boucher waves to the crowd. (CPimages/ AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
His father is seriously ill with pancreatic cancer. His mother had open-heart surgery Nov. 16. And his wife underwent tests this week because she wasn't feeling well. It all came together last Friday when his father called to asked whether Boucher could come to Quebec City for the weekend with the grandkids.
Boucher wondered how he could keep it together.
"My wife wasn't feeling well at home. I was on my way to the rink in the afternoon and I was like, 'How am I going to play today?"' the 33-year-old Boucher told The Canadian Press in an interview Tuesday.
"But one thing I had on my mind is that our coach Dave Tippett gives out a puck to the player of the game. I told myself I wanted to somehow earn the game puck."
Boucher went out and scored the first career hat trick of his 14-year NHL career in a 5-3 win over Los Angeles.
The game puck from Tippett was in the hands of Boucher's 68-year-old father Sunday in Quebec City.
"He was very proud," said Boucher. "He was showing everyone the puck. . . . It was a special day. It was good to see a little sparkle in my dad's eyes."
The good news these days is that his mother and wife are doing well.
"She's doing great," Boucher said of his 66-year-old mother. "She spent most of the afternoon Sunday with us. She looks fine but maybe because we've got other concerns she's playing tough. But everything went well. Even though it was pretty major surgery the doctors were real happy with how it went. She looked very strong when I saw her on Sunday."
His wife, who had complained of hearing loss and ringing in her ears, got some good news Tuesday.
"She saw the doctor today and all the serious things we were worried about are out of the way," said Boucher. "She's had a hearing problem. They did a brain scan yesterday and everything came out negative.
"It's probably a little bit of stress, could be from our situation right now. A little rest and she should be fine."
His dad, however, is fighting a tough one.
"It's pretty serious," said Boucher. "It's pancreatic cancer and it was caught late. There's not much they can do. He won't be doing any chemotherapy. He's already in palliative care. ...
"I just had a chat with the doctor again today," added Boucher. "The problem is that it spreads really quick. They don't know .... but that's why I went last weekend. The doctor called me last week and said: 'If you want to see him, you should come in the next couple of weeks."'
Boucher flew back to rejoin the Stars in time for Monday's 2-1 loss at Detroit. The Stars allowed Matthew on the team charter to Chicago on Monday night. On Tuesday Boucher flew home to Dallas with Matthew. Boucher was then headed to the airport Tuesday night to catch a flight back to Chicago, where the Stars play Wednesday.
He wants to play.
"I'm allowed to go to the rink and play 60 minutes and be a kid, do what I like to do, and escape for a little bit," he said.
"Last Friday, I didn't know how I would gather myself for the game. But you go in the room, the guys have their own ways of making you feel good, then you hear the national anthem and it's like, 'Here we go.'
"I think in tough times like this hockey helps you focus."