Looking back on a magical year
Catching up with Blaine Lacher
He was nicknamed "The Lock Net Monster."
In 1995, Blaine Lacher put together a brilliant rookie season in goal for the Boston Bruins, recording a 19-11-2 record with four shutouts and a 2.41 goals against average. At times he was impossible to score upon, and his season was highlighted by back-to-back shutouts against New Jersey and Ottawa.
He was such a huge hit with the fans, who voted him the Seventh Player Award, which is given to the Bruins' player whose unexpected contributions were key to the team's success.
"It was the best year of my life," said Lacher. "I think it was more special because it was in the (Boston) Garden. You hear your whole life how old and awesome the building is, but you don't believe it until you see your first rat yourself. It was definitely more special to say I played in the Boston Garden with Ray Bourque, Cam Neely, and Adam Oates."
Lacher struggled during his sophomore season, playing in only 12 games, and was eventually sent back to Providence. Lacher never returned to the NHL, but there is no doubting he had one of the greatest rookie seasons in goal for the Bruins, who had another great rookie in net last year in Andre Raycroft.
"I felt my first year I had so much support with the coaching staff and was a little shocked that [coach] Brian Sutter got fired," said Lacher. "He was probably my biggest supporter. When things went south the next year I didn't get the support and I didn't get played once things starting going bad. Once you get going down it was hard to reverse it.
Despite his struggles during his second season, Lacher looks back at his time in Boston with a smile.
"When I signed with Boston, I definitely wanted play with Ray Bourque and to be a part of that history, said Lacher. When you walk into that dressing room you can tell right away it's full history. Theres a bears head in that dressing room that I think was older than Bobby Orr."
As far as the current lockout situation in the NHL, Lacher said he understands the financial problems that exist: "it's not the players fault said Lacher, but when a team like Calgary pays six or seven million for Jarome Iginla and then they cannot afford to pay any other players it's ridiculous. I thought this was settled during the lockout in '94. I thought the agreement they made then was fine, but I don't think the owners stuck to the agreement. The agreement was made so they didn't have to pay the players a lot and it's their fault they are. You can't blame a player for taking it."
These days Lacher resides in Medicine Hat, Alberta, which is located south of Calgary, Canada, with his wife Shawntelle. They are expecting their first child in June.
"Ive been hounding her to have kids for years and now it's happening," said Lacher. "I'm slightly petrified right now. My friend has a kid and he is a goalie and I help him out every week. I'm looking forward to that kind of stuff."
Lacher is now working as a tire builder for Goodyear, which is a job he has had for the last five years. "They needed a goalie on their team," joked Lacher about how he got the job. "It's not a very big town here and five of my best friends are there. It pays the bills and it's hard on the body. It's shift work, so I get days off during the week which I love."
Outside of work, Lacher enjoys playing golf, hockey and coaching kids at Notre Dame Academy, a local school.
Lacher signed with the Bruins as a free agent in 1994 after enjoying a stellar career with Lake Superior State, which won an NCAA championship in 1992. In his senior season, Lacher recorded six shutouts and sported a 20-5-4 record and a miniscule 1.98 GAA. He also set the NCAAs all-time consecutive scoreless streak (375 minutes).
"It's definitely the highlight of my hockey career, even more than playing pro," said Lacher of his career at Lake Superior State. "When you play college hockey you really get to meet your teammates. You live with them and go to school with them. There is nothing like college hockey. Anytime I get a chance to talk to kids midget age around here (16-17 years old) I tell them that college hockey is absolutely the best. Not just the skill of the hockey which is fantastic, but it's four years of your life you will never forget."
After being sent back down to Providence during the 1995-96 season, Lacher played one season with the Cleveland Lumberjacks and one season with the Grand Rapids Griffins, both in the IHL, before retiring.
"It's such a fantastic lifestyle I wish I was still playing," said Lacher. "The memories are great and I played with some absolutely amazing players. There are no regrets that is for sure."