WILMINGTON, MA – Throughout the past two days at Training Camp, one key aspect of the Bruins roster has been evident – its familiarity.
With the reunion of a healthy Nathan Horton with linemates David Krejci and Milan Lucic, and young D Dougie Hamilton slotting in next to Dennis Seidenberg, the only role left to fill is that of the third line winger alongside Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley.
“Right now, we’ve got Chris Bourque there and it’s very obvious his skill level and speed,” said B’s Head Coach Claude Julien on the third line opening.
“And you saw him even working on the power play with us. I liked what he’s done in Providence on the power play and how good of vision he’s got. So we’re giving him an opportunity right now to see if he can’t blend in with them.”
Bourque, the son of Bruins Hall of Famer Ray Bourque, is relishing the chance he’s been given by Coach Julien – a chance that would not have existed if the B’s had not acquired the forward from the Washington Capitals this past May.
“It was a dream come true when I got traded here. I knew I would eventually get the chance to pull this jersey over my head,” said Bourque following Day 2 Training Camp practice at Ristuccia. “I grew up wanting to be a Bruin and it seems pretty close to becoming a reality. So I just have to keep working hard.”
Hard work exemplifies not only the mindset of the entire Black & Gold roster – but especially the workhorse third and fourth lines, which boast the likes of Peverley and Kelly, along with Shawn Thornton, Gregory Campbell and Dan Paille of the Merlot Line.
“The first two days of camp, he’s looked good. He’s a skilled guy, and he’s battling hard right now,” Peverley said of Bourque’s opportunity to don the gray jersey at practice.
“We’ve played with a bunch of guys, and Chris [Kelly] played with a bunch of guys last year. When usually play pretty good together, so if it’s Chris Bourque being there, then that’s great and you know he’s going to bring something to the line.”
“He’s a very skilled player,” Kelly added. “I think it shouldn’t be too big of an adjustment for him. Rich and I, I think, are fairly easy guys to play with.”
While showing skill and a strong work ethic may end up landing Bourque the opportunity to pull on the spoked-B come game-time, Kelly said that communication on the ice is also key to helping their line perform at its best.
“Whenever you get someone new, talking makes a world of a difference,” said the center. “Even little things, where maybe he knows exactly what you’re doing. But, just to talk and make everyone feel comfortable.
“Everyone has different styles, and I think the easier you can adapt to one another, the better it will be."
Though Bourque has spent the past couple of days in the role, the position is not set in stone. A healthy Jordan Caron (recently injured while playing with the Providence Bruins) could challenge for the spot, as well as 2011 draft pick Ryan Spooner – and a number of others forwards in the B’s system.
“There’s always options, and you find those options,” Coach Julien told media gathered in the Bruins locker room after practice. “But right now, it’s an opportunity that [Bourque] has been given and hopefully he takes advantage of it.”
That same hope is felt by the Bourque currently wearing No. 48 for the Black & Gold.
“It’s probably the best opportunity for me - given the role - playing with guys like Peverley and Kelly. They’re such good players, such smart hockey players that it’s going to hopefully be an easy transition for me to take that spot.”
“And I think it’s going to be the best opportunity that I’ve had in my career, so I’ve got to get it done.”