“I just hope I don’t disappoint him.”
That’s something you might expect the son of a Hockey Hall of Famer, Stanley Cup winner, and NHL legend to say about his father, not the other way around. But when you’re in your son’s adopted hometown, wearing the number that’s all but synonymous with his name among his team’s fans, that’s just the way it goes.
“I really didn’t know what number I was going to wear,” Ray Bourque said at the press conference before the Hershey Bears Outdoor Classic alumni game. “I saw 17 this morning, so that’s pretty cool. Just going to make him proud, I’m going to try to.”
While Bourque never played for the Bears in his 22 professional years, all spent in the NHL, he does have a strong connection to the team from Chocolatetown. His oldest son Chris has spent the majority of his career in Hershey, winning three Calder Cups and the 2016 Les Cunningham Award for the most valuable player in the AHL. So far this year, the younger Bourque has been named to the AHL All-Star Game for the fifth time in his career, ties the lead for scoring, and will play for the United States in the 2018 Olympics. Bourque’s youngest son Ryan also spent time in Hershey for two seasons.
“I got to know a lot of the guys that are playing here in this game,” Bourque said. “Seeing them win Calder Cups with Chris, a lot of special times.”
Bourque may be new to playing for the Bears, but he’s not new to playing in outdoor alumni games. Three years ago, he played for the Bruins at Gillette Stadium against the Canadiens, then with the Avalanche alums against the Red Wings.
Bourque played 20 seasons with Boston; his name becoming synonymous with the Bruins franchise for a time. The one thing he did not accomplish in Boston was winning a Stanley Cup, which he finally did in 2001, his second year with the Colorado Avalanche. The trophy ceremony of the 2001 Stanley Cup Final gave us the indelible image of Joe Sakic handing off the Cup to Bourque in the final game of Bourque’s professional career.
Ray Bourque still holds the records for goals, assists, and points by a defenseman. Those numbers will not be surpassed any time soon. He won the Norris Trophy five times. And he played for Canada in the 1998 Olympics. So he certainly has a good perspective on Chris’ recent accomplishments.
“Well, Chris has had quite a career, you know, in the American League especially,” Bourque said. “He’s been very productive with a lot of special things that have happened here at Hershey… it’s really been a special place for Chris and his family, as well as for us watching him have success.”
How special Hershey has been for the Bourques is a point Ray came back to time and time again. He elaborated on how much it means for him, as a father, to see his sons embraced by the Hershey community.
“They’re both good players, and they both work really hard. To see them living where they’re living, and doing what they’re doing, and experiencing success, well, that’s all you want as a parent.”
For Ray, it has all come full circle. When he played professionally, his kids tried their best to live up to his legacy. Friday, it was his turn to live up to his sons’.
Right as Bourque was about to leave the press conference, he was asked about a quote from Chris, who had apparently said about his father, “We’ll see if he still has it.”
Ray, in a self-deprecating fashion, responded, “I think he’ll be disappointed. No, I’ll try my best.”
Just another example of the role-reversal between father and son. And, for the record, he does still have it.
Headline Image: @ChocHockey
Russian Machine Never Breaks is not associated with the Washington Capitals; Monumental Sports, the NHL, or its properties. Not even a little bit.
All original content on russianmachineneverbreaks.com is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0)– unless otherwise stated or superseded by another license. You are free to share, copy, and remix this content so long as it is attributed, done for noncommercial purposes, and done so under a license similar to this one.