Chris Bourque was many things as a member of the Capitals organization for parts of seven seasons- a three-time Calder Cup champion with the Hershey Bears, an AHL Playoff MVP in 2010 and an AHL leading scorer in 2011-12.
The Capitals’ second-round pick (33rd overall) in the 2006 NHL Draft was never, however, a fulltime NHLer.
The Capitals eventually traded Bourque to his hometown Boston Bruins last May and it appears, at least for now, that the 27-year-old Bourque has finally found an NHL home.
“It’s been great,” Bourque said of his time with the Bruins. “I mean, obviously getting traded to your hometown team and getting traded to the organization that I grew up watching and being a big fan of, it’s been great so far. Our team is doing really well and we’re winning a lot of games early on in the season, so it’s been fun.”
Bourque has a goal and three assists in 17 games this season – three games shy of his NHL career-high set in 2009-10 with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Boston native has spent much of the season on the Bruins’ third-line with veterans Chris Kelly and Rich Peverly and has also seen time on the power play.
Bourque is also in the unique position of seeing the No.77 jersey of his Hall-of-Fame father Ray hanging in the rafters at Boston’s TD Garden for all home games.
“There's a lot of pressure on him, obviously, in Boston to do well,” said Bruins head coach Claude Julien.
“You're always being reminded of who you are and whose footsteps you're following, but I think he's handled that extremely well. I think we have a knack of being patient with players because more than not it's paid off for us.”
Despite Julien preaching patience, there are suggestions that the Bruins expect more out of their third line, and that Bourque may be the one to pay the price.
In Saturday’s 3-2 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning, Bourque was demoted to Boston’s fourth line and played a season-low 7:07. One night later he was a healthy scratch in Boston’s 4-3 loss to the Montreal Canadiens.
“He's certainly given us a little bit more on the offensive side when it comes to power play; we needed some players that were good at seeing the ice. He's certainly one of those guys,” Julien explained.
“We've had him out of the lineup there for a game, but this is more about weaving guys in and out of our lineup than certainly a disappointment in a player who's a guy that I think has gotten better.”
Bourque alternated with Daniel Paille on the left wing at the Bruins’ morning skate ahead tonight’s game at Verizon Center. The former Capitals prospect is unsure whether he will play tonight, but he would no doubt look forward to the opportunity.
“It’ll be great to be able to come back and see a lot of the guys that I played with for a lot of years. I spent most of my career with his organization whether it be with Hershey or a few of the different stints with Washington. I enjoyed my time here and got to know a lot of good people, won [three] Calder Cups in Hershey and lot of good memories from my time here.”