When Brian Boucher signed a contract with the Carolina Hurricanes last year, he and his family dutifully packed up their belongings. Melissa Boucher was used to this. She had been with Brian through nearly a dozen minor league and National Hockey League teams since they met as teenagers in Woonsocket, R.I.

"We found a nice house in Raleigh and tried to settle in," said Melissa. "But the kids [fourth-grader Tyler and second-grader Brie] were miserable. Raleigh is spread out, and it was 25 minutes to go here and 25 minutes to go there, and they just plain missed their friends in Haddonfield.

"So by January, we were back in our small town, the town we know as home and probably will forever now," she said. "Brian's on the road anyway, and we decided we wanted the whole family to be happy and Haddonfield is the place we have been happiest."

According to the 2010 Census, 11,593 people live in Haddonfield, and it only seems like half of them are pro athletes, former pro athletes or relatives of pro athletes. Danny Briere lives in Haddonfield and has shared his house with teammates Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier. While that is a pretty good first line, the Haddonfield defense wouldn't be so bad either - Kimmo Timonen, Chris Pronger and Derian Hatcher also live in town. In goal is Ilya Bryzgalov, whose home on Hinchman Avenue was prominently featured in the HBO series "24/7" prior to last year's Winter Classic. Then there's Boucher and former short-term Flyer Ray Emery, and about a dozen other recent Flyers as well.

The Haddonfield baseball contingent can hold its own, too. Joe Blanton and Carlos Ruiz lived near one another, and Chad Qualls rented in town during his short months as a Phillies reliever.

Management is also well-represented, with the Flyers player-turned-exec Bobby Clarke and Phillies manager Charlie Manuel, not to mention broadcaster Bill Campbell and former National Football League chief of officials Bob McElwee.

"I think they come here because people in Haddonfield let them live a normal life," said Mayor Tish Colombi. "Whatever it is about the borough, they have been able to mix in. They have to deal with the cameras and the boos and whatever at work, but when they come home, they just want to feel like everyone else, and they have been allowed to do that here."

For some people, Haddonfield is a little too precious. The favorite style of house is Victorian, with gingerbread trimmings, wraparound porches and bright colors. In the 1950s, there was a movement to make as many of the downtown business district shops look colonial - either clapboard or brick - harkening back to the borough's 17th-century founding, and the merchants have been trading off it ever since. And getting an address there doesn't come cheap: On average, it is the most expensive town for housing in New Jersey south of Princeton.

It was founded in 1680 as a Quaker outpost, which brings a somewhat subdued nature to its residents that the athletes apparently like. "There are so many professionals of all sorts here - doctors, lawyers, professors - who are outstanding in their fields, so I think it is just a place where they respect your privacy and are friendly no matter who you are," said Melissa Boucher.

Still, everyone in Haddonfield has a story about encountering a pro athlete in town. Pat Vogdes owns one of those beautiful Victorian houses, with an old barn out back. She once got a call from a neighbor, Lora Carr, who has a photography business doing portraits of families and children, asking if a client could do his family's Christmas-card photo shoot by the barn.

"It turned out to be Brad Lidge, and he said it looked like where he grew up in Colorado," said Vogdes. "They brought a Christmas tree and decorated it and took the photos. They were nice and said how much they appreciated it. He had just won the World Series and here he was just being a regular guy with a family."

Lidge actually rented in town first, right across the street from Elizabeth Haddon Elementary School, living in full view of lots of townsfolk and kids every day. He bought a home in a more secluded part of town later, and Colombi said she would often see his family on walks and even picnics in a town park.

"No one bothered the family, and they seemed to love the lack of attention," she said. "You think about all the places they may have had to put up with the distraction of fame, but, really, what they wanted was just to be like normal folks."

Manuel, who during the season actually lives two houses across the town line in Barrington, often hangs out at Caravelli Brothers barber shop on Kings Highway, right near the PATCO train station, according to shop owner Anthony Fiore.

"He popped in one day, and my dad, being a big baseball fan, well, they just hit it off," Fiore said. "He will get a cup of coffee and just sit around after the haircut and chat. I think he just wants to be a regular guy, and he is that with us."

Geoff Jenkins, who played on that 2008 World Series team, was also a regular Caravelli Brothers customer, said Fiore. "He and his wife had a baby just before the Series and he was hustling around town with that, so really busy," Fiore said. "But at 9 in the morning after the winning game, there he was, popping in his head to say hello to everyone here. The people here just allowed him to be a regular guy, and I think he appreciated that."

Jenkins spent $1 million to buy his house in Haddonfield, a bit of new construction right across the street from perhaps the most historic spot in town, the discovery site of the Hadrosaurus - the world's first nearly complete dinosaur skeleton. When he moved out, he rented the house to his de facto replacement, Greg Dobbs.

Dobbs got involved with the Bancroft School, the longtime facility in town dedicated to educating the mentally challenged.

"He really was, as we say, a home run," said Toni Pergolin, Bancroft's CEO and president. "We asked him to come over one day and talk to the kids and he ended up being there all afternoon playing with them. He became the chair of our big fund-raising event, the Butterfly Ball, and then joined the board of trustees."

Ian Laperriere, a Haddonfield resident whose hockey career was cut short by a severe head injury two seasons ago, has signed on to work with Bancroft, too, particularly with those students who have had brain injuries.

"When we asked him, he was just happy to do something in his new community," Pergolin said. "I think the guys who have come to live here want to do something when they can. [Former Flyers goalie] Bernie Parent used to come over when he lived in town. This is a town full of volunteers, and I think they want to be a part of that. Other places, maybe not, but the guys who move find themselves liking it."

According to local Realtors, the influx of athletes into Haddonfield started about a decade ago, when more newly constructed houses - like the one Jenkins bought near the dinosaur field - hit the market. Melissa Boucher said that when Brian first joined the Flyers and they were looking at houses, her father came down from Rhode Island to check out some Victorians in Haddonfield.

"Old wiring, lots of upkeep. He said we just wouldn't have the time for it with Brian on the road," she said. So they moved to a new house in Marlton, which was less convenient to both the practice rink in Voorhees and especially the Wells Fargo Center in South Philadelphia. "Forty-five minutes. Ugh. When we could find something newer in Haddonfield, which is only 15 minutes from both places, that was it."

Although other athletes here and there have lived in Haddonfield, a lot of people credit Flyers veteran Mark Recchi as sparking the newer migration. He had great respect among his teammates, they said, and he was also looking for good schools, which Haddonfield is known for. Once he moved there, and newer construction became available, a lot of players with children started to look in town, and then continued to recommend it to teammates.

And while the athletes are often willing to spend more for housing, they are usually fairly smart about it, said one Realtor. "If they spent a $1 million in a community where everything else was $200,000, that would be a bad investment," said the Realtor, who didn't want to be identified for fear of being biased in Haddonfield's favor. In Haddonfield, though, where the average home assessment is about $460,000, that investment wouldn't be so outsized.

Haddonfield itself has its own athletic history. The snowboard, for instance, was invented by Tom Sims (who died only last month) in his Haddonfield Middle School shop class in 1963. The swimming star of the 1968 Olympics, Debbie Meyer, grew up in town, as did 1970s Cincinnati Reds closer Rawley Eastwick (he also played two seasons with the Phillies), 2008 Olympic 1,500-meter runner Erin Donohue, former Phillies pitcher Ed Keegan, Penn and later Houston Rockets shooting guard Matt Maloney, and the center for the last Duke team to win the NCAA basketball championship, Brian Zoubek, who now has a business in town selling cream puffs.

Earlier this month, the high school girls tennis team won the Group II (midsized schools) state championship, and as with all state championship teams in town, got to ride through town on a firetruck, sirens blaring and parents honking behind in their cars. This happens more often than it probably should - over the last three years, Haddonfield High athletes have won 17 state championships of various sorts.

The firetruck, though, is the kind of Norman Rockwell thing that affects the pro athletes in town, said Mayor Colombi. "They mostly come from small towns and remember their times as kids," she said. "I think that is what they want for their kids, too."

Each winter, Haddonfield High School students hold an overnight volleyball marathon for charity in the school gym, with several hundred kids staying up all night swatting at volleyballs. Two winters ago, they had a couple of impromptu visitors at about 11 p.m., said former principal Mike Wilson. It was Briere and Giroux, who had heard about the event and just wanted to be part of it, according to Wilson. The players ended up staying for an hour or more, taking as many photos and signing as many autographs as kids wanted. Wilson said the players are always generous with school functions, often donating autographed items for charity and booster auctions. Wilson said that two Flyers have brought relatives to town as tuition-paying students because they like the schools so much.

"I have had lots of athletes as clients, and have found that what they want to be is just normal, average folks," said Carr, the photographer. When the youth soccer or Little League teams have players with "Pronger" or "Hatcher" or "Weinrich" on the back of their uniforms, they don't want it to mean any more than any other name, she said. "So it has become normal, which is good for the other kids, too."

She said that when one of the Flyers' sons was in middle school, he could have gone to a big Flyers party to watch the Stanley Cup, "but he wanted to be with his friends at the middle school watching it. Being here has grounded them, too, I think."

Ironically, with all the Flyers in town, there is no hockey team at the high school, and there aren't many local kids playing in the surrounding towns that do have teams.

"Tyler is always looking to interest his friends to come play in Voorhees with him, but it may just be good that he has to play their games," said Melissa Boucher. "My daughter is taking tennis lessons.

"And then we found last summer, the town empties out to the shore for August and the kids want to be where their friends are, so instead of going to Rhode Island to be with our parents, I think we will be looking to rent somewhere where the kids' friends are at the shore," she added.

Of course, borough residents aren't completely blasé about having pro athletes in their midst, Colombi said. Manuel once had occasion to do some business at Borough Hall when she was there, and when he entered the various offices, all the employees melted in his wake. "I even sped 90 miles an hour to Sports Authority to get baseballs for him to autograph," she said. "But on the other hand, the other night I saw the Hatcher family eating outside at [local restaurant] Little Tuna and no one was bugging them."

Clarke said he moved to Haddonfield as a player after living in nearby Mount Ephraim, where often people would come to his house at all hours asking for autographs. It was fun for a while being recognized like that, but then it became tiresome, and he found his Haddonfield neighbors would simply wave and smile, but at appropriate hours.

Mayor Colombi thinks the town has helped the players as much as the players have helped the town. "Look at all those who have stayed after they are no longer Flyers, or even players, even if their families are from far away," she said. Laperriere, who hails from Quebec, just built a new house in town. Hatcher, who is from Michigan, has stayed several years after his playing career. Clarke moved back after a short stint in Florida, even though he grew up in Manitoba. "I think a lot have found the community they never thought they would have moving from team to team, town to town.

"It has been a win for everyone, and I can only think it will stay that way," she said.