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Sunday February 7, 2010 9:16 pm

Undrafted Bourque’s Flame burning out in Calgary

Posted by Adrien Griffin Categories: Athletes, Editorial, NHL,

Rene BourqueIn today’s NHL, it’s pretty hard to be surprised by young talent. With years of advance scouting and televised junior games, it’s not common that a young player slips under the radar. By the time the NHL Entry Draft comes around every year, all of the best young skaters are pretty well-known. Every now and then, however, a player falls through the cracks. Calgary’s Rene Bourque is one of those players. The 28-year-old Albertan broke into the NHL in 2005 and nobody knew how or why.

The Chicago Blackhawks signed Bourque as an undrafted free agent prior to the 2004-05 season. He played with the Hawks’ AHL affiliate Norfolk Admirals where he scored a franchise record 33 goals, and led the team with 60 points. He won the AHL Rookie of the Year Award, played for Team Canada at the AHL All-Star Game and even won the Hardest Shot competition. He was tearing up the AHL, just like he did the junior leagues before that, yet this guy wasn’t even noticed during the Entry Draft.

The reason why might have surfaced when Bourque broke into the NHL. He has yet to realize the potential he showed with his pre-NHL stats. In his first game as a Blackhawk, he scored his first NHL goal. He finished that season with 16 goals and 34 points, fourth in team scoring. To date, he’s scored just 72 goals and 156 points in 292 career games. Hardly the result of the promise he showed when he was tearing up the AHL.

Bourque is in his fifth NHL season now. He’s grown up and he’s learned how to play on the world’s greatest hockey stage. The issue with Bourque is where he plays. The Flames are burning out, and Bourque is going up in smoke with them. If ever a player needed a change of scenery, it’s him. Calgary has been cleaning house in recent weeks, but they seem anxious to hold on to the undrafted winger as a piece to build around. If that’s the case, Bourque will need to step up his game to the next level. He’ll never get the opportunity to prove that his junior stats were legit unless he himself goes out and gets it.



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