Minuteman Flames in the News

MetroWest Daily News, July 31, 2011

Butler brings Calder Cup home

MARLBOROUGH - When the Binghamton Senators defeated the Houston Aeros 3-2 last month to win the AHL's Calder Cup, Senators forward and Marlborough native Bobby Butler knew he had to make a special trip home.

Like the recipients of Lord Stanley's Cup, the winners of the Calder Cup get to spend personal time with one of the oldest trophies in the world.

Butler had his day yesterday and the 24-year-old held an autograph and meet-and-greet session at Marlborough's New England Sports Center.

"It's big to bring (the Calder Cup) to Marlborough," said Butler, who sat next to a pair of large team portraits, one of the Minuteman Flames and the other of Marlborough High. "It's something I wanted to do and the guys worked real hard to get this. It's definitely awesome to bring it back to where it all started in Marlborough. I played a lot of games in this rink. It's great to get the kids to come out and see it."

Butler played 47 games with Binghamton and 36 with Ottawa last year. After the NHL season ended Butler went back to Binghamton where he scored 13 goals in the Calder Cup playoffs. He recently signed a two-year, one-way contract with the Senators for $2.15 million.

Butler spent two hours at the NESC where he proudly displayed the Cup and several jerseys he has worn, including both his NHL and AHL one. He posed for countless pictures, shook hands and signed autographs for kids, many of whom stood in awe of the NHL player.

"It's great," said 10-year old Tino Pizzarella, who took some shots on the ice with Butler last summer. "It's awesome. He's got a great shot. He got a good one on Tim Thomas."

Pizzarella added that his two favorite hockey players are Butler and Boston's Milan Lucic.

Larue Renfroe, the owner of the NESC, coached Butler when he was a member of the Minuteman Flames. Renfroe is still coaching and yesterday morning after his team of six-year olds finished on the ice the entire group took a team picture with Butler and the Cup.

"It was really something and they enjoyed it," Renfroe said. "Bobby's the nicest kid. He's always going to be like that. He's never going to be one of those guys you can't talk to. Just a regular guy, he gives back. He's not here because he has to be, he's here because he wants to do it. You can see it in his eyes, he's a special kid."

Renfroe said that Butler's hands make him a special player.

"Like Muhammad Ali," he said. "Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee."

Butler graduated from Marlborough High in 2005 and holds several school records. He finished his career with 284 points. Butler also spent four years with the Junior Bruins. He moved on to a successful four-year stint at the University of New Hampshire, where he totaled 121 points and was a Hobey Baker Award finalist as a senior.

Butler played two games with Ottawa in the 2009-2010 season. Last year he got more time and notched his first career goal came on Feb. 12 against the Oilers. His most memorable goal may have been a tally two months later at TD Garden against Tim Thomas.

"It was awesome and a great feeling," Butler said of scoring in Boston. "I raised my hands like a home game and forgot I was in Boston. It was great. I had 100 people waiting for me down below which was awesome."

One of those in attendance was 14-year-old Alec Baj and his friend Jonathan Chaves, who both are forwards that hope to follow in Butler's footsteps at Marlborough High.

"It makes you look up to Bobby and want to be like him," Baj said.

"It lets you know what you go to do to get up (to the NHL)," added Chaves.

Butler's journey from Marlborough to Ottawa has not only inspired players, but has drawn the attention of parents as well. Butler's story proves that you don't have to be from a hockey factory in Canada to make it to the pros. Matt Murphy of Sudbury brought his sons Harry (6) and Dylan (5) to meet Butler, someone he hopes his kids can look up to.

"It's exciting to meet a young player in the NHL and it's great he supports the community by coming out to show the fans that if you work hard enough you might make it in the NHL someday," Murphy said. "Think about the millions of kids that play hockey, the best make it to the top and it shows that even if it's rare to make the NHL someone from around here can make it."

Butler said he was going to spend the rest of his day at home with a group of close family and friends to celebrate his accomplishment. The Calder Cup needs to be returned tomorrow and then Butler will be off to Ottawa to prepare for the coming season.

"I'm going to do as well as I can, and hopefully better than last year," he said. "I have to go back up there and be ready to play."

There is no mistaken that this is Bruins country, but from yesterday's turnout there is a growing number of Senators fans.