MARLBOROUGH – Marlborough hockey star Bobby Butler grabbed headlines earlier this month with a surprise return to professional hockey as a member of the Worcester Railers ECHL team.
A matter of weeks later, Butler has signed a new contract with the team as he now eyes a longer slate of games under the bright lights in Worcester.
“It’s a good group of guys out there,” he said of the Railers in an interview with the Community Advocate on Friday. “…I think it’s pretty cool and special.”
Butler family boasts long sports legacy
The Railers announced Butler’s contract on Friday afternoon. Hours later, he was on the ice for the first of three games scheduled for this weekend.
The Butler name is a familiar one for Marlborough sports fans as Bobby’s father spent decades coaching the Marlborough High School boys hockey team.
Bobby himself won a state championship with MHS in 2005 before dominating in college hockey and spending a decade in professional leagues including the NHL.
Back home, he’s been active in the local hockey community, organizing youth programs and supporting area teams.
He’s stayed in touch with members of the MHS hockey program, recently cheering on a family member who is currently on the team.
Speaking on Friday, he shared words of praise for the Panthers squad, which has been dominant this winter.
“Watching them and what Coach O’Brien has done with this group is pretty cool,” he said.
“Marlborough has been an awesome hockey community since I was little,” Butler added. “I’m just fortunate to be a part of it.”
Butler excited to play in front of family, youth players
Butler qualified for the US men’s olympic team for ice hockey in 2018. He then played what was, for a time, his final professional game just a year later in 2019.
Two years after that, though, with COVID-19 leaving minor league hockey teams like the Railers struggling to find players due to quarantines and confirmed infections, Butler stepped in to help out.
He scored a goal and two assists in his first game back on Jan. 2, helping push the Railers to victory over the Reading Royals.
Now eyeing his upcoming schedule after re-signing, Butler said he’s excited to have a chance to play in front of his family.
Some of the young local hockey players that Butler has taught over the years will also be in the stands.
“I think it’s cool for them,” Butler said of that prospect. “I think they hear a lot from me, now they get a chance to see some stuff that I may have talked about.”
‘As long as I feel good, I’ll keep going’
Butler said he’s taking things game-by-game in his role as a player for the Railers.
“As long as I feel good,” he said, though, “I’ll keep going.”
Butler, who also serves as the Director of Operations for the Junior Railers program and as an assistant coach of the Holy Cross men’s ice hockey team, said he’s looking to support the teammates sitting alongside him in the locker room.
“I’ve been through ups, I’ve been through downs,” he said. “So, day to day, I think I can help there as well.”
The Railers schedule runs through mid-April. See a full list of games online at the team’s website.