This March marks 20 years since Hall of Fame defenseman Ray Bourque, the Bruins’ longest-serving captain who played 21 seasons with the team, requested a trade.
The Quebec native was nearing the end of his career but had never won the Stanley Cup, and expectations for Boston were looking dim, with the Bruins at the bottom of their division. Boston general manager Harry Sinden abided by his request, and Bourque landed with the Colorado Avalanche, where he would win hockey’s ultimate prize in 2001.
In an interview with The Athletic, Bourque said he wasn’t sure who he’d root for in a Boston/Colorado final, but had answers to questions about where to dine out in Boston, who his favorite players are, and more.
Here’s a look at what Bourque had to say:
He’s not worried about someone breaking his records.
Bourque holds NHL records for defensemen in goals (410) and points (1,579), is the career leader in shots on goal (6,206), and is the Bruins’ all-time leader in games played (1,518), assists (1,111), and points (1,506).
But the 59-year-old is excited about the possibility of someone else taking over.
“Hey, records are all meant to be broken,” he said. “Nobody thought that we’d be talking about somebody breaking [Wayne Gretzky’s record 894 goals] – he’s a ways off, but you can see that, if one guy’s going to do it, [Alex Ovechkin is] going to have the opportunity to do it.
For me, there’s nobody close yet that you’d kind of see coming, but there will be somebody at some point.”
He has a restaurant recommendation – and knows what to order.
Okay, so he did recommend the restaurant he’s owned for the past 15 years, but Tresca, on the North End’s Hanover Street, has earned 4 stars on Yelp and 4.5 on TripAdvisor. As much as Bourque tried to sell readers on Gamberoni ala Bourque, a pasta dish with shrimp, cream sauce, lemon, tomatoes, spinach, and white wine, and signature meatballs stuffed with peppers, onions, and provolone, he created a warm visual of the neighborhood as a whole.
“It’s one square mile of 80 Italian restaurants,” Bourque said. “There’s all these little alleys, these little streets. It’s a five-minute walk to the Garden. We have a lot of hockey fans who come in there before Bruins games.”
A Bruins defenseman has caught his eye.
When asked about current players that he likes to watch, Bourque brought the question immediately to Boston.
“I love Torey Krug in Boston,” Bourque said. “I get to see him play a lot, and I really enjoy his game and how he plays.”
Bourque also name-dropped Montreal’s Shea Weber and Chicago’s Duncan Keith.
“Guys who could play both ways and play a lot of minutes and had a certain physical element to their game, as well.”
He was picky about his sticks.
Bourque played with wooden sticks, and finding one that felt right is an experience he thinks today’s players are missing out on.
“These new sticks, it feels to me that they always come pretty close to each other,” he said. “A wooden stick, I would go through four dozen sometimes. I worked with [a guy at] Sher-Wood.
“He’d bring me four dozen sticks every two weeks. I’d go through for dozen sometimes, and only come out with six that I wanted to use, because of the weight, the stiffness, and the curve. It’s all handmade and personally curved. There’s no molds. It’s all by hand and by eye, by this one guy who does your sticks all the time.
“You’re working with wood. I couldn’t play with a heavy stick. The weight had to be right and light. I loved wood sticks. I still struggle to play with the one piece now, to this day.”
He wants to be buried in Boston, but has nothing but love for his hometown.
Bourque is from Saint-Laurent, Quebec, which is a borough of Montreal that existed as its own city prior to 2002.
“When I think of my hometown […] it’s just the friendships,” Bourque said. “Playing in the outdoor rinks pretty much every day during the winter. We’d meet up with my buddies, having fun, playing hockey and working on our skills without knowing it. Playing baseball in the park, all summer long.”