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Former Jets Star Laurie Boschman: Twice Blessed

It has been said that experience is the best teacher. If that’s true, It’s probably why Laurie Boschman is so good at his job.

These days, Boschman is a full-time employee of Hockey Ministries International and the pastor and chapel leader for the National Hockey League’s Ottawa Senators. Howdver, there was a time when Boschman was one of the most highly-regarded players in the NHL.

Laurie Boschman today.

Laurie Boschman today.

A star with his hometown junior team, the Brandon Wheat Kings, Boschman was a first-round NHL draft pick who went on to play14 seasons at centre with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Edmonton Oilers, Winnipeg Jets, New Jersey Devils and Ottawa Senators.

He had a pretty solid run, too. In fact, despite a rocky start in Toronto, where he was never one of owner Harold Ballard’s favorites, Boschman finished his career as one of only 16 players in NHL history to have recorded 500-plus points and 2,000-plus penalty minutes.

In his final NHL season – the inaugural season of the Senators — he was Ottawa’s captain and he fell in love with the Capital Region. Thanks to good timing and his commitment to Christ, Boschman has been able to make Ottawa home.

However, he almost never made it to Ottawa. One of the reasons Boschman was disliked by Ballard in Toronto was because of the hockey star’s personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Boschman had been born-again and Ballard believed the player’s commitment to the scriptures made him soft. The fact Boschman finished his career with more than 2,000 penalty minutes suggests that when Ballard traded Boschman to Edmonton, the owner really had no idea what he was watching.

In 1993, after Boschman completed his one and only year with the Senators, he was approached by Don Wiens of Hockey Ministries International and asked if he’d like to come aboard. He’d been working with HMI since he was a player with the Winnipeg Jets in the mid-1980s, so it seemed like a perfect fit.

Since then, Boschman has been running hockey camps, clinics and schools and presiding over the Senators’ chapel.

However, while Boschman spends hours with the players in Ottawa discussing everything from life on the road to how the scriptures relate to professional hockey, he has one area of expertise that he’s learned as a result of an adult life marked by highs and lows on the hockey rink and highs and lows at home.

“Yeah, I guess you could say I know a little about marriage,” he said with a laugh. “I had a wonderful 21-year relationship with my first wife Nancy, and now I’m in the midst of a four-year relationship with my current wife, Andrea. We have a blended family, Andrea’s three kids and my three kids, all of them between the ages of 20 and 27. It’s work, but it’s fun, too.”

Laurie Boschman with the Jets in 1988.

Laurie Boschman with the Jets in 1988.

Boschman’s first wife, his beloved Nancy, passed away after a battle with cancer in 2006. He’s now happily married again and he believes he’s found the key to a successful relationship – choose your partner carefully.

“I have been very fortunate that at two different stages of my life, I have found women who were solid spiritually and were very low maintenance,” Boschman said. “And make no mistake, our faith is very important.

“The reason I was able to survive the days, months and years after I got the news that somebody I loved very deeply had been diagnosed with cancer was my faith. That’s the foundation. Faith in Christ is the foundation for any relationship and for anything that happens inside that relationship. Faith doesn’t take away the tears and the sadness, but it gives us hope and provides us with a foundation to keep on going.”

For Boschman, his faith in Christ gave him hope during Nancy’s battle with cancer, hope as he came to grips with his grievous loss and hope that he would have the good fortune to meet the woman who would become his second wife.

It’s that message of hope that he passes on to the young players he counsels today.

Laurie Boschman at home in Ottawa.

Laurie Boschman at home in Ottawa.

“Marriage isn’t man’s idea. It’s God’s idea,” Boschman said. “We didn’t create marriage, God did, and he didn’t make it easy. There are always pressures on married people. Sometimes there are financial differences. Sometimes, it’s just that we’re men and women and we’re different. Sometimes, if you have kids, it can be about something as simple as different approaches to discipline.

“There are also some unique challenges for athletes and people in the entertainment industry that can make a marriage even more vulnerable to the pressures of everyday life. There will always be times when you aren’t very fond of each other, but you still love each other. That’s when your faith becomes extremely important to your relationship.

“However the most important thing is this: through the scriptures, our faith gives us hope, and in a marriage, as in life, that faith can help us make a success of anything, even the most difficult relationship.

“Marriage is important,” he added. “Marriage is not always easy, but as tell our players, our faith can guide us through the most difficult times and give us the foundation upon which to build a wonderful life together.”

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