FORT WAYNE – Chuck Adamson and Nick Boucher both seemed unflappable in the face of pressure as the goaltenders won multiple championships with the Komets.
That may not be the case today, when Adamson’s No. 1 and Boucher’s No. 33 are lifted to the Memorial Coliseum rafters and retired by the Komets before the team plays Cincinnati.
“I’m very humbled by this,” said Adamson, who played for Fort Wayne from 1962 to 1966 and won two Turner Cups. “After all these years, you think of, well, you know, I’m just ecstatic. It’s an honor.”
Boucher, who played for the Komets from 2007 to 2012, feels equally privileged to join a group of 15 players and team personnel to have numbers retired by the 62-year-old franchise.
“I’m definitely a little bit anxious and nervous,” Boucher said, “and at the same time I’m looking forward to it. I want to take it all in and enjoy the night for what it is. I’ve tried to take my mind off of it, … so I don’t let it consume me.”
Adamson, 75, and Boucher, 32, struck up a friendship over the past few years. Both have marveled at the other’s remarkable feats.
Adamson played 176 consecutive games from 1962 to 1965 – a team record – and holds franchise records for most shots faced in a season (2,532) and most saves in a season (2,268).
“When I first came here from (the Indianapolis Chiefs in 1962), it was Bobby Rivard and myself, and we knew immediately we had a good hockey club,” said Adamson, who won Cups in 1962 and 1965 but lost in the 1964 finals to Toledo.
“The second year we were here, we came into training camp and this guy had said, ‘Why don’t they just mail you the Turner Cup, you guys are so good?’ I always remembered that. We won two championships, but we should have won three in a row.”
Boucher won three Cups in four seasons and was picked as the IHL’s top goalie in 2009, an award Adamson got in 1965.
Boucher led the Komets back from 3-1 series deficits in the 2008 finals against Port Huron and the 2010 semifinals against Port Huron and from a 2-0 deficit against Missouri in the 2012 CHL conference finals. All those seasons ended with titles.
Adamson and Boucher have made Fort Wayne their homes as has the only other goalie to have his number retired – Robbie Irons (No. 30).
“The way I look at it is once you’re a Komet, you’re always a Komet,” Adamson said. “The people who keep coming back to Fort Wayne, that sends a message. They’ve been here and want to be here again after their careers.”
Adamson was the second Komets goalie to wear a mask after Reno Zanier had worn one to protect a cut on his face in 1961-62. Adamson was resistant to wearing the mask but did at the behest of coach Ken Ullyot.
“It was an old-style mask. It hugged your face. I got hit in the mask and it caused a bruise. The new masks, you can get dinged and nothing happens,” said Adamson, whose first mask cost $35.
His second one was procured from the Montreal Canadiens’ Jacques Plante, the first goalie to wear a mask in the NHL. Plante said Adamson needed one that would be more breathable so he didn’t sweat as much in games. It cost $125, but Adamson talked Plante down to $85.
Boucher, whose masks cost about $2,000 each, chuckled when he heard that story. One of the biggest differences between their eras is the amount of equipment goalies can use.
“The lack of protection those guys wore,” Boucher said. “I’d like to think I was born to be a goaltender, but I don’t know if I was in that era that I’d have the guts to strap it on. Those guys were men. And that Chuck played that many games consecutively. You don’t have that now. It’s not lost on me. You know that perception that goalies being weird was born then. You had to be nuts to be a goalie in those days.”
They won in different eras and in different ways, but now their names will be synonymous with greatness.
Note: In his first game since being called up from the Komets, goaltender John Muse stopped all 30 shots he faced in Charlotte’s 5-0 victory at Grand Rapids in the AHL.