Quiet Bourdon racks up more miles in final year in QMJHL

By Simon Richard

When Hockey’s Future chatted with Luc Bourdon for the first time about a year ago, the hushed and calm voice of the 17-year-old young man seemed remarkable.

Born in the fishery town of Shippagan, New Brunswick, Bourdon has this particularly quiet attitude seen from the fishermen.

“This is a little community of less than 3000 inhabitants but nevertheless, I received great support from them,” Bourdon told HF. “All the coaches I had during my minor hockey stage contributed to my development especially Guy-Simon Hache who supported me for many years and acted like a father for me.”

When HF commented on his particular calmness, Bourdon replied that he also likes to laugh, have fun with friends and take advantage of life.

A continuous journey

The former Midget AAA Miramichi Rivermen was drafted in June 2003 by the QMJHL Val d’Or Foreurs right after Sidney Crosby and Guillaume Latendresse.

A couple of months later, he moved to Val d’Or, which is over 500 kilometers north of Montreal and more than 1,500 kilometers away from his hometown.

That was the beginning of a long journey for him. Because of Val d’Or’s location, the Foreurs players have to travel over 29,000 kms during the regular season.

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When the blue liner was only 16 years old, he immediately earned a regular spot on the Val d’Or roster.

A few months later, the French Canadian native got the chance of playing against most of the best players of his age while he was chosen for Team Atlantic at the World Under-17 Hockey Challenge. For the record, the event was held in St.John’s, Newfoundland, more than 2000 kms east of Val d’Or.

The overall performance of Bourdon was recognized. In August 2004, he traveled about 4000 kms to the west to Alberta while being invited to the Canada’s U-18 team Camp. He made the team and therefore flew through Slovakia a few days later where the 2004 U-18 Junior World Cup was held. Once again, he had the chance of squaring off with the best skaters of his age. The Acadian and his teammates won the gold medal.

After the end of the 2003-04 QMJHL season, Bourdon shared his time between Shippagan and Montreal. In his hometown, he completed high school. In Montreal, he trained with David Arsenault, the personal trainer of the likes of Vincent Lecavalier, Mathew Lombardi and Angelo Esposito.

In November 2004, Bourdon represented the QMJHL team in the two-game series of the CHL/Russia Challenge.

In January, Bourdon flew 5,000 kms to Vancouver to participate to the 2005 CHL Top Prospect Game.

Because the Foreurs could not make the 2005 QMJHL series, Bourdon went in Czech Republic in April having once again the chance to play for the Canada’s National U-18 Team. He brought home a silver medal and was named the best defenseman of the 2005 IIHF U-18 World Championship.

Overall, from January of 2004 to April of 2005, the 17-year-old has traveled over 100,000 kms. Most importantly, he was one of the 2004-05 best QMJHL defensemen, he has been involved in four international events and was named the best blue liner in one of those occasions.

“These confrontations on the international level were important for my development,” commented Bourdon. “Along the way, I got adapted to this level. Being named the best defenseman at the U-18 World Championship was a great honor for me. I think that I did play six really good games in Czech Republic and I’m taking it as a reward for all the work I have done through the last years.

“These experiences also gave me the chance to work with different coaches and learn from them those little details that make the difference.”

Drafted by the Canucks

With such a resume, Bourdon had great value prior to the NHL 2005 Entry Draft. International Scouting Service had him ranked 11th overall as well as TSN. The NHL Central Scouting Service had him sixth among North American skaters.

The Vancouver Canucks were favored by the draft lottery, gaining more than ten ranks over their 2003-04 standings. They eventually used that pick to select Bourdon 10th overall, making them all smiles at the table.

In the process, the 6’2, 199-pound New Brunswick native became the first QMJHL defenseman selected among the top ten overall draftees in 21 years.

“He doesn’t have the traditional QMJHL blue liner style, he rather looks more like a WHL ones,” commented a senior QMJHL scout to HF. “He likes hitting hard and has shown that he can drop the gloves on the ice when it is necessary,” added the observer.

Big story at the Canucks camp

After having trained hard with Arsenault for the third offseason in a row, Bourdon left Montreal in August for British Columbia where he attended the Canada’s Junior Team Development Camp.

He made a good impression there, spending a lot of minutes on the ice in the Red versus Blue team games before reaching the Canucks Rookie Camp on September 5th. He passed through this stage with success.

Bourdon was then invited to the Canucks pro camp. According to several sources, he was the big story there. He did so well that he played five preseason games, recording three assists.

Most of all, he showed a lot of intensity patrolling the Vancouver end, levelling many opponents with clean hits and making a lot of noise in most of the exhibition games he was involved in.

“In my opinion, he should have made the team,” commented Bourdon’s agent Philippe Lecavalier of M5 Sport Agency in a telephone interview. “He made a very good impression, every observer has said, including the Canucks staff members. But at the end, I do think they did not keep him because their salary cap was almost attained,” he added.

“Because of the new CBA, I do believe that in the future there will be fewer 18 and 19-year-old prospects reaching the NHL because the teams will be afraid of losing them at 25 years old,” stated Lecavalier.

A great future ahead

Bourdon’s role model is Scott Niedermayer. “I like to just watching him in action, he plays well defensively, he moves the puck with ease and makes an excellent first pass,” observed Bourdon.

The latter is known for making an excellent first pass as well. Bourdon’s skating is way above the average.

“He plays a tough game, hitting opponents hard. He was involved in many fights last season,” the Foreurs coach Claude Bouchard told HF.

According to Bouchard, his general at the blue line plays well defensively and his slap shot is a pro one. “When he arrived in Val d’Or, he had to get adapted from the Midget triple A. In that caliber, he was dominant and had some little bad habits like trying to go with the puck by himself from one side of the ice rink to the other one. However, he soon corrected this habit and did adjust to the new system.”

“Luc is a very serious man and he has a great ethic of work on and off the ice,” commented Lecavalier. “He has great abilities on ice but the thing that really impresses me is his will for competitiveness.”

“Bourdon is a sure value in the NHL, he has already the style of NHLers,” the senior scout mentioned above said.

In the meantime, Bourdon will continue to improve his game in the QMJHL and will attend the final stage of Canada’s Junior Team next December.

“I’m very excited about the idea that I could play at the WJC. I’ve watched the games since I was a little boy. I’ll work hard and if I play well, I’ll have my chance to make the team,” he told HF last summer after he received the confirmation that he was invited to the summer camp.

Not only will he make the team now, but he should be on the first Canadian unit at the blue line.

Simon Richard is the author of La Serie du siecle, Septembre 1972, a book about the Summit Series published in 2002. Copyright 2005 Hockey’s Future. Do not reprint or otherwise duplicate without permission of the editorial staff.