WILMINGTON, Mass. -- It’s rare to say a pro hockey player is getting his last shot at age 27, but that’s how Bruins hopeful Chris Bourque (who turns 27 on Jan. 29) is approaching Bruins training camp this week. After being drafted 33rd overall by the Washington Capitals in 2004 and then playing just 33 NHL games in six pro seasons since, the son of former Bruins great and hockey Hall of Famer Ray Bourque realizes this may be his last chance to stick with an NHL club.
“What I do with this opportunity is up to me,” said Bourque, who was acquired by the Bruins last May. “I just want to run with this and keep going and not look back. This is a big moment in my career where I really think I have a chance to crack a lineup, and hopefully I can and I stick. This is probably the best opportunity for me given the role I’ll have and playing with guys like [Chris] Kelly and [Rich] Peverley on the third line, they’re such good hockey players that it’s going to hopefully be an easy transition to take that spot and I gotta get it done.”
Bourque admittedly has always been an offense-first type of guy, and he showed he has the skills to play that type of game with a 93-point season in Hershey of the AHL last season. But if he wants to make this Bruins team, he has been told that he will need to be a better two-way player and fill the vacant left-wing slot on the third line. He will get some power-play time, as he did at practice Monday, but he knows he has to be a more complete player in order to remain in Boston.
But for Bourque, knowing his role is making things easier this time around.
“When someone tells you right away what your role is, it makes it a lot easier,” Bourque said. “You don’t have to always ask ‘What do you want me to do here’ or ask yourself if you’re doing the right thing and then maybe hesitate. I know what they want me to do and it’s just up to me to do it.”
Bourque, who had 28 points in 32 games with Providence this season, is thrilled to be playing with versatile players such as Peverley and Kelly, as well as simply being part of a forward group he believes is one of the best in the NHL.
“They bring a little bit of everything,” Bourque said of Peverley and Kelly. “They’re both really good skaters. Peverley can really shoot the puck and Kelly is such a smart player. Both of them got 20 goals last season and it really shows you the depth this team has. This team can score and is one of the best in the league. Even the fourth line seems to always have the puck in the offensive zone and that comes from hard work. That’s what I plan on doing to fit in is work hard like them.”
But while playing with Kelly and Peverley will be a great experience should he make the team, there’s no doubt what the biggest thrill of all will be: putting on a Bruins uniform just as his dad did for 20-plus seasons.
“It’s an honor,” Bourque said of wearing the spoked ‘B’. “It was a dream come true when I got traded here, and to know I would get a chance to pull this jersey over my head. I really take a lot of pride in being a Bruin. I grew up wanting to be a Bruin and it seems pretty close to becoming a reality. I grew up going to the old Garden and now I really have a chance to make this a reality.”