Thirty Junior Bouchards?

Pregame fun:

–The day is at hand: Cody Rudkowsky will start tonight wearing No. 30. Every number up to and including 40 will then have been worn by a Sound Tiger in a game. Backing up tonight on a PTO after flying in from Dayton is Gregg Naumenko. He’s wearing the more familiar No. 34. (Update: Off-ice official Stan Capp claims credit for Rudkowsky wearing 30. In an e-mail this afternoon, he said it was time for it to happen.)

–Canada earned a repeat victory at the World Juniors with a 5-0 win over Russia Thursday night in Vancouver. Islanders draft pick Blake Comeau scored one of the goals and led the champs in scoring (3-4-7). If not for that zany third period in Helsinki two years ago yesterday, it’d be a three-peat. (Sorry, Jeremy Colliton.) The U.S. lost to Finland 4-2 in the bronze-medal game, with Manchester Monarchs forward Lauri Tukonen scoring the game-winner and assisting on the insurance tally. The all-tournament team is here, along with links to game recaps. Tukonen’s on the media’s team; the tournament directorate and the press agreed on Leafs pick Tuukka Rask of Finland as the top goalie. Interestingly, the directorate picked Rangers draft pick Marc Staal of Canada as the top defenseman; the media picked the Americans’ Jack Johnson (Carolina) and Canada’s Luc Bourdon (Vancouver) as their two defensemen. Magnitogorsk/Pittsburgh forward Evgeni Malkin was the press’ MVP and the directorate’s top forward. U.S. totally-draft-eligible forward Phil Kessel led the tournament in scoring at 1-10-11 but didn’t make the press team; the media went with Malkin (4-6-10), Tukonen (3-7-10), and Philly pick Steve Downie (2-4-6), who’s an interesting story to say the least.

I wish this tournament could somehow come to this area again. I’m sorry I missed 1996.

–A couple of nights ago, I promised some Joel Bouchard stuff in today’s paper. Well, space considerations and breaking news (four injured knees on three bodies) put a damper on those hopes. So just to be lazy, and to give you maybe some dumb insight about how the mind works when writing a story (no, seriously, run away now), here’s the raw stuff that would have found its way into the feature:

Wednesday’s biggest surprise for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers came not in their game against the Philadelphia Phantoms, but in the afternoon.

That’s when Joel Bouchard, expected to be a week away from returning to the lineup, walked into coach Dave Baseggio’s office and said he was ready to return.

Bouchard dressed for the first time since opening night, Oct. 5. That’s when a hit from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton rookie Stephen Dixon left him with a broken bone in his right shoulder, just 7:53 into the season, after touching up an icing.

He missed the next 35 games.

The above four paragraphs were originally written before Wednesday’s game as a pseudo-lead. If nothing all that interesting happened in Wednesday night’s game, this would have at least been the framework for the top of my game story for first edition. That story had to be filed right after the game because of deadlines, as those who read the Valley and New Haven edition no doubt noticed. Frederic Cloutier’s shutout and the wacky penalties scuttled the Bouchard lead and kicked this to Friday, and now to cyberspace.

And as it turned out, Wednesday’s biggest surprise for the Bridgeport Sound Tigers actually came after the game, when they all retreated to the dressing room, turned on the Islanders game and found Wade Dubielewicz in goal. That obviously changed a lot of my story for second edition. But I digress.

On that Dixon hit, Bouchard suffered a fracture of the acromial spine; a piece of the scapula in the shoulder, it’s one of the rarest bones to break.

He had to keep his shoulder immobilized for about six weeks, and the break wasn’t even fully healed until a couple of weeks ago. He began practicing with the team Dec. 21 and was cleared for full-contact practice this week.

A little background. I know it’s repetitive for those who follow every day, but I’ve got to try to maintain that delicate balance of filling in those who haven’t heard of Joel Bouchard before — yes, they exist — while holding the interest of those who saw him while his right arm was hanging at his side.

“For his first game, I thought he was outstanding,” Baseggio said. “He adds offense. He jumped into the play. (He adds) mobility and poise back there with the puck.”

“He came in yesterday. He talked to the doctor. Originally he was going to wait a week,” Baseggio said. “The way he felt after Monday and Tuesday’s practice, he was like, ‘Why are we waiting?'”

“It’s time to move on,” Bouchard said. “Everything’s OK. It feels good. There’s no reason to wait if everything’s OK. Move on.”

“They took it easy on me,” Bouchard said. “Everything went well. Another few games, everything should be back, fine.”

I take notes on interviews and conversations, then transcribe them into the computer, usually all at once, like they are here. On deadline, I’ll usually have a mental note about a “money quote” or two that I want to use; Bruno Gervais’ line after the Wilkes-Barre game, about how the things that usually killed the Sound Tigers just gave them momentum in that game, that one comes to mind. I’ll go straight there in the notebook, get them in where I want them to go, and get that story in. But when I’ve got time, like here, I’ll put them all in one place, then cut-and-paste to put them where I want them in the finished product. If the quote looks too long, I’ll trim it back while making sure to keep context. (For example, in a full-bore feature, I might have paraphrased the part of Baseggio’s quote about Bouchard talking to the doctor Tuesday and then to Baseggio, picking up with “Originally he was going…” Or in the first Bouchard quote, just eliminated the first “It’s time to move on.”

So there’s some Joel Bouchard stuff, some of which might find its way into a future feature. Don’t say I don’t deliver on my promises, eh?

Michael Fornabaio