ST. LOUIS, MO — There was almost a disbelief in the voice of Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards when asked about Rene Bourque’s status.
And that’s partly because Bourque, who came over at the trade deadline from the Anaheim Ducks, had been a pleasant surprise since joining the Jackets three weeks ago on emergency recall. He got in the lineup on Mar. 7 vs. the Colorado Avalanche and worked to earn himself a spot, scoring a few clutch goals and adding a big-body presence on the No. 1 line with Ryan Johansen and Cam Atkinson.
That’s all put on hold for now, as Bourque suffered a stress fracture in his back and will miss the remainder of the season. Bourque is the second Blue Jackets player to be diagnosed with the injury this season, as Boone Jenner missed 40 games with a stress fracture and made his return on Mar. 21.
“It’s another one of those disappointing events that we’ve had quite a few of this year,” Richards said prior to Saturday’s game in St. Louis.
Bourque, a 10-year NHL veteran, spoke in recent weeks about seeking a fresh start with the Blue Jackets after a disappointing season splitting time between Montreal and Anaheim. He didn’t see eye-to-eye with Canadiens coach Michel Therrien and his role diminished quickly, and in November, he was traded to the Ducks and never got his footing there.
Coming to Columbus represented an opportunity for the 33-year-old Alberta native to get his NHL career back on track. His performance in the eight games played with the Blue Jackets indicated that Bourque was taking this audition quite seriously.
He scored four goals in eight games, including a two-goal performance last weekend in Calgary. Bourque's second goal in that game was the overtime winner to clinch the franchise’s first-ever three-game sweep of western Canada, and making it even sweeter was that it came against the Flames, a former employer.
Unfortunately for Bourque, that was the last game he’d play in a Jackets sweater this season. He did not practice upon the team’s return from Canada, and after a brief skate by himself on Friday morning in Chicago, it was determined that shutting down for the season was the best option.
“He’s playing well, and I know he was looking forward to the opportunity (here),” Richards said. “This is a blow for him and a blow for us, too. It was (a chance) for us to get a good look and see what he can do, and what he can bring to our team.”