Ex-NHL hockey player sentenced in sex assault case made ‘mistake,’ says his new team’s GM

ST PAUL, MN – JUNE 25: 99th pick overall Reid Boucher by the New Jersey Devils looks on during day two of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft at Xcel Energy Center on June 25, 2011 in St Paul, Minnesota. (Photo by Bruce Bennett / Getty Images)

Four months after being fired amid the fallout of a sex assault case, a former NHL hockey player from Michigan has been hired to another Continental Hockey League team.

Reid Boucher, 28, of the Okemos area, will play for the Russian team Avangard Omsk on a one-year contract, the team announced Saturday.

Before moving to the KHL team Lokomotiv Yaroslavl and subsequently being fired in February, Boucher last year helped Avangard win the KHL’s version of the Stanley Cup – the Gagarin Cup – while he was under investigation by the Ann Arbor Police Department for a 2011 incident involving a 12-year-old girl when he was 17.

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The girl was his billet – or host family – sister during his tenure in the USA Hockey National Team Development Program in Michigan. Now, as an adult, she told the Free Press that Boucher on two occasions pressured her into the use of her mouth for oral sexual assault. She spoke under an agreement of anonymity due to the nature of the case.

The decision to hire Boucher was “not an easy one,” Avangard general manager Alexei Volkov said in a statement.

He said Boucher made a “mistake,” noted he was underage at the time, and separately said Canadian Olympic hockey player Corbin Knight “agreed to sign a contract with Avangard thanks in large part to Reid Boucher joining the team.”

“It is very important to draw conclusions from mistakes, and to change for the better,” Volkov said. “Reid pled guilty. It has been a while since that time, and our club decided to give Reid a second chance. Everyone deserves it. ”

The club also shared a video of Boucher online amid the announcement. In it, Boucher said he tries to be professional on and off the ice and that “the last couple of months have been tough for myself and my family, but we’re trying to move forward.”

This is the first time Boucher has commented himself since the Free Press broke the news of the sex assault case.

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Following his closed-door sentencing, his attorney, Pamella Szydlak, raised concern with what she called apparent “revisionist history” by the woman at the center of his case. Szydlak said Boucher was ready to go to trial but made the best decision for his family.

Meanwhile, the woman spoke of years battling self-harm, an eating disorder, and a substance use disorder since Boucher’s assault, and said she was revictimized when coming forward. She had wanted for Boucher to receive some guaranteed jail time in the case but, after, was grateful for “some semblance of closure.”

Boucher was originally charged in 2021 with first-degree criminal sexual conduct. However, in an agreement with a Washtenaw County judge, he pleaded guilty in December to the lesser charge of third-degree criminal sexual conduct involving penetration with someone ages 13-16.

He was sentenced in January under the Holmes Youthful Trainee Act, or HYTA, to four years of probation with one year of jail time suspended if he successfully completed the probation.

Under HYTA, his record will remain clean upon the successful completion of his sentence; its application in the case sparked concern with the victim, the prosecutor in the Larry Nassar sex abuse scandal, and victims’ advocates, though a number of defense attorneys stood by the move.

That hasn’t been the only point of institutional concern raised in the case, either.

Police reports show the USA Hockey program had at least enough information to remove Boucher from the host household back in 2011, but the organization has denied knowledge of any sexual assault.

Boucher went on to play stints with the New Jersey Devils, the Nashville Predators and the Vancouver Canucks as well as the Russian teams.

Darcie Moran is a breaking news reporter and podcaster for the Detroit Free Press. She has served as an investigative reporter and covered justice issues, crime, protests, wildfires and government affairs. Contact Moran: dmoran@freepress.com. Twitter: @darciegmoran.

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This article originally appeared on Detroit Free Press: Ex-NHL player from Michigan hired after sex assault guilty plea

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