October 09, 2017

Legends of Team Canada: Serge Boisvert

Serge Boisvert was a more integral part of the 1988 Canadian Olympic team than the statistics suggest. 

And considering he led all Canadian scorers with seven goals and nine points in eight Olympic contests, that's saying something.

"He has an infinite supply of energy and an endless supply of good humor," King said. "I haven't met anyone who loves to play the game any more than Serge does and he's just as enthusiastic for the seventh game in nine nights as he is for the first."

 "I can't say enough about the effect it has on his teammates. He's an important chemistry player."

He also helped bridged the two natural Canadian cliques in the dressing room - French and English. He helped make players such as Claude Vilgrain and Serge Roy feel as part of the group that at times was segregated to a degree by language and culture.

Serge also was in many ways the model of hope for all the players on the team. He, like most of them, had travelled an odd hockey path, once playing in Japan before catching on with for a few dozen games with the Montreal Canadiens. It was enough games to get him a Stanley Cup ring, as he helped Montreal win the Stanley Cup in 1986. 

"Chris Nilan was injured and I remember that Jean Perron had to choose between Kjell Dahlin, Lucien Deblois, Stéphane Richer and Steve Rooney, all straight wingers like me," Boisvert said.
"I felt privileged to have been the choice of Perron and Jacques Lemaire. I've had the chance to participate in the last four games of the final, including myself with Bobby Smith and Mats Naslund. It was a golden opportunity offered me. I will never forget that. "

After 46 NHL games plus 23 more in the Stanley Cup playoffs, Serge Boisvert knew how that chapter would end: Skilled hockey player lacking size and defensive play disappears to the minor leagues. 

Only Boisvert decided to write the next chapter himself.

"I just didn't want to go back to minor pro hockey," Boisvert said. "I felt I could help some NHL team but there didn't seem to be any chance. That's how I feel now when I look ahead to after the Olympics. I don't want to play in Sherbrooke; I know where I want to be and that's in Montreal."
So Boisvert joined Dave King's national team, dedicating himself to defensive hockey and the 1988 Calgary Olympics.
"The chance to play in the Olympics was the big attraction," he said. "But the change of scene part of it had some appeal for me, too."
Boisvert said he learned more about hockey under Dave King than under anyone else.
"For many pro teams, the neutral zone is just something you must pass through to go from one zone to the other," Boisvert said. "Teams dump the puck into the other team's zone and dump it out of their own.
"But this team works as much on the neutral zone as any part of the game. I really have made an unbelievable improvement in my defensive play this season. I'm just a very much better all-round player than when I got here."
He also became a much more complete player.
"For my whole career, I measured my performance in goals and points because I was an offensive player," he said. "But that's changed completely. Now all I think about is not being scored on when I'm on the ice.
"I only think about defence because that's where we must be strong to have a chance. Funny thing, too, but in many games, the more strong checking we do, the more scoring chances we get. When you're checking hard, you force turnovers."
Despite the strong showing in the Olympics, Serge Boisvert never did return to the NHL. So he headed to Europe to play many seasons in Switzerland, Sweden and Norway.
Boisvert retired and returned to his native Drummondville to sell insurance until he had the chance to return to the Canadiens as a scout.

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