By Kris Smith
Bouchard is one of the highest calibre players to ever sign with the Stars and the two-time Calder Cup Champion certainly made an impact on the Elite League.
The back-to-back American Hockey League champion had also played in some of the top European leagues, including; the Erstre Bank Eishockey League (EBEL), Sweden’s Allsvenskan, the Italian League and the French league, all before he arrived in Dundee.
However, François started off by discussing what he has been doing since he left the City of Discovery more than 12 months ago.
He began: “Since I left Dundee, I signed for a team in the Quebec League here.
“There is like six teams in the league and it is pretty much older guys, who are done with Europe and American Leagues, so they want to come back here and be closer to their family.
“That is the league I am playing in this year and it is just to keep me in the game a little bit and it is not as busy, so we do not practice every day and do not travel that much as it is quite a small league.
“Like I said, I am spending more time with my family, which is great because I have my two young kids.
“My little boy is four and my little girl is two now, so there is a lot of stuff to do at the house and I am trying as well to finish a couple of my online classes with the University.
“So, I am in the house during the day and then playing hockey on the weekends but obviously my family are keeping me busy and the classes too, so I will be happy once school is over and I will try to keep playing hockey here in Quebec and keep taking care of my family.”
The native of Sherbrooke, Quebec then shared more about his experience in Dundee.
“It was great, I had a really good time!”, said Bouchard.
He continued: “I have a lot of good memories of Dundee but what I liked most about it was that it was a family there.
“The owners were great to me, my wife and my family, also Pach is obviously one of my best friends but it was just a huge family there and I loved it from the day I started to the end.
“The boys were great too, we had a great bunch of guys and it was fun but what I remember most, is that every morning when I went to the rink, it was fun and I enjoyed it.
“I think that is the biggest thing you want when you go and play somewhere and you want to do good, so when you go to the rink everyday with a smile, you know you are in a good place and that’s what I had in Dundee, I had a good time and everybody took good care of me.
“So, everything is good memories but my injury kind of sucked at the end of the year because I wanted to help the team in that battle for a playoff spot but I try not to think too much about that and just focus on good and positive memories I have of Dundee.”
The 32-year-old was then asked to choose his favourite moment in a Stars jersey and François responded; “It is tough to pick a favourite moment but I would have to just say, every game where I was playing.
“Also, all the teams we beat in the league, we got wins against everyone and the ones against the big teams were special because we are a small budget team.”
The Canadian then opened up more about how he and his best friend Omar struck a deal that would bring him to Dundee for the 2018-2019 Elite League campaign.
Bouchard explained: “Well, I had heard a lot of good things about the league before I signed with Dundee.
“So, over the past few years when I was in France or Sweden, there was always teams from the Elite League contacting me.
“Therefore, I knew there was a league and that it was a good league, because I had some friends who played there but when Pach asked me if I wanted to go and play there, I was obviously really pumped about it.
“The fact I knew Pach was a big thing too because I wanted to know the coach well and I wanted to know that my experience will be fun and the place I was going to be living in would be nice.
“Then I talked with the owners and everyone was really great to me, so it made my decision really easy to sign there!”
As an experienced hockey veteran, François then used his knowledge and experience of playing in some of hockey’s best leagues to measure how the EIHL compares.
“That is always a tough question to answer”, said Bouchard.
He explained: “When people ask me which league was the best, its hard to answer because every league has their own little things.
“The Elite League was a bit more like North American hockey, it had a bit more fighting and physicality than what you see in like the French Leagues or in Sweden, which is more of a faster game, faster pace and less physical.
“I did not really know quite what to expect when I first signed in the UK but I was really surprised by the calibre of the league and I really enjoyed my time.
“It was a tough league to play in because every team was good and you could be playing the first place team or the last place team and anyone could win.”
Finally, François shared a message for all the Stars fans back in Dundee and he said: “I just want to say hi to everyone and thank them because I had a really good time there and they always took care of me.
“You guys were always nice to me, my wife and my family when my wife would come to the rink with the kids, everybody was really nice and we made some good friends over there.
“I want to say hi as well to the owners and everyone else that took care of us over there.
“I have been talking to Pach every day and Dundee is and always will be in my heart forever.
“So, thanks for everything.”
That concludes our series of ‘Look Back’ articles on the 18th Dundee Stars season but there is more still to come, as next week we take you back to the 2019-2020 season.
If you want to be a part of the historic 20th Dundee Stars season then you can buy your season tickets by contacting [email protected]