[Former] NHL enforcer finds love in all the right places
It’s 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 as well as and the pastor and chapel leader for the National Hockey League’s Ottawa Senators. However, there was a time when Boschman was one of the most highly-regarded players in the NHL.
A star with his hometown junior team, the Brandon Wheat Kings, Boschman was a first-round NHL draft pick who went on to play 14 seasons at centre with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Edmonton Oilers, Winnipeg Jets, New Jersey Devils and Ottawa Senators.
Despite a rocky start in Toronto, where he was never one of owner Harold Ballard’s favourites, 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 year, – he was Ottawa’s captain during the club’s inaugural season. That year, he fell in love with the nation’s capital. Thanks to good timing and his commitment to Christ, Boschman has called the city home ever since.
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 Scripture made him soft. Considering that Boschman finished his career with more than 2,000 penalty minutes, you might suggests that Ballard 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 his time in Winnipeg 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.
Boschman spends hours with the players in Ottawa discussing everything from life on the road to how the Scripture relates to professional hockey. Even so, 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 [six]-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  and . It’s work, but it’s fun, too.”
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.
“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… 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 her 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.
“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.
“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 I 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.”