By Dakota Antelman, Contributing Writer
Marlborough – Among other memories from his Olympic hockey experience this year, Marlborough native Bobby Butler remembers the texts his father showed him.
Back home, area residents were gathering at local restaurants or at private parties to watch the games all while sending their words of encouragement to the Butlers. Though they were 7,000 miles away, the Butlers agreed, they could still feel that support.
“It was pretty special,” Butler said. “I definitely knew a lot of people were pushing for me.”
Butler was part of the 25-man roster of American hockey players who travelled to this year’s Olympic Games in South Korea.
Though his team’s bid for gold ended in the quarterfinals with a shootout loss to the Czech Republic, Butler said he is grateful for the opportunity to play.
“We made memories for a lifetime and we had a great group of guys,” he said. “We’ll be brothers forever in that aspect.”
Seeing his son enjoy that team chemistry, John Butler said he saw a side of Bobby’s game return that he had not seen in years.
“He seemed rejuvenated and excited playing – like he was a little kid again,” he said.
With both John and his son in agreement that Bobby’s professional career may be nearing its end, John, however, said the experience of the Olympics “might even add on a few years to his career.”
In the midst of that professional career, Butler now plays for the Milwaukee Admirals American Hockey League (AHL) team. Long before that, he got his hockey start in Marlborough, eventually leading the Marlborough High School hockey team to a state championship in 2004.
Despite his son’s local hockey success, John Butler, who also coached the high school team for nearly three decades, said he was still surprised by the outpouring of support during the Olympics.
“You really find out how, in a small town, everyone is really connected,” he said. “It just shows you how the hockey world is really special. There are a lot of special people in the hockey world…I realized that over the 21 days I was there.”
No longer in South Korea, John Butler now reflects on the memory of seeing his son play with gratitude toward his community and pride in the sport he and his family have dedicated part of their lives to.
“I want to say thank you for all the support of everybody, locally and in all of central Mass.,” he said. “It’s great for [Bobby]. It’s great for our area. It’s great for hockey. [It’s] great for all of us.”