Bouchard shook his head. "They don't like me in the neighborhood anymore. I committed the capital sin of marrying a girl who isn't French, and it didn't go over too good. Well, I can't worry about that."
While Myre is shy and silent, Bouchard is extremely outgoing and likes to dazzle people with the white patent-leather boots he seems to wear everywhere. He talks about building condominiums in Atlanta "because they're good tax shelters" and spends his spare time looking for antique furniture for the condominium he has just bought in suburban Marietta.
"My dad always told me I was born for the big bread," Bouchard said. "You got to believe it, too. When I was 14 I used to make $70 a week delivering orders on my bike. I was tight with my pennies in those days. My dad told me, 'Be like that and you'll succeed.' I don't throw my money around."
Secure in goal with Myre and Bouchard, Fletcher has been able to gamble with untested kids in the Atlanta lineup. Last year there were five rookies playing regularly on the forward lines and three more taking steady shifts on defense. This year the best player on the Atlanta roster is still another rookie, the tall, strong and shifty Lysiak. Thanks are again due to Sam. Montreal owned the No. 2 selection in the amateur draft last spring, but Pollock thought Lysiak would sign with the WHA rather than the Canadiens, who usually send their rookies to Halifax for seasoning. Rather than lose Lysiak for the NHL, Pollock traded the No. 2 pick to Atlanta for "various concessions" and Fletcher immediately drafted and signed Lysiak to a multi-year contract.
Fletcher must be doing something right; even those newly severe critics in Atlanta admit that. The Flames outdraw the NBA Hawks by almost two to one, averaging nearly 14,000 spectators a game compared with 8,000 for Pistol Pete and Sweet Lou. And unlike the Hawks, who need nightly giveaways and other gimmicks to lure customers to the Omni, the Flames do not give away anything. Except occasionally a goal. And, thanks to Myre and Bouchard, they don't give many of those.