MONTREAL – Rene Bourque had a rocky start to his career as a Hab, but he’s planning on using the next four years to make up for it.
After arriving in Montreal under less-than-ideal circumstances in January, Bourque spent the following 38 games hoping to find the spark he needed to rekindle his offensive production. Despite flanking Tomas Plekanec on the team’s second line to close out the season, the 30-year-old sniper suddenly found himself firing blanks in his new NHL home.
“Obviously it was disappointing personally. For whatever reason, it didn’t go my way when I got here,” admitted Bourque, whose production dropped from 13 goals in 38 games with the Flames to start the season to just five goals in the same amount of time with the Habs. “I’m very happy to be here; I know that wasn’t the problem. Personally it was a struggle. I know I’m a better player than what I showed.”
Coming off three-straight 20-plus goal seasons in Calgary – and finishing just two goals shy of hitting the benchmark for a fourth consecutive year in 2011-12 – Bourque also knows he hasn’t lost his scoring touch overnight.
“Things didn’t go my way and it gets pretty stressful after a while when you struggle like that,” he explained. “I was fighting it for a while and it’s just a matter of confidence and everything and it kind of snowballed. It’s going to be an important summer just to get away for a bit and regroup for next year to be the player I know I’m capable of being.”
After spending some time back home in Lac-La-Biche, AB, the 6-foot-2 winger will head to Chicago for three grueling months of offseason training to get back on track. While the most obvious thing he’s hoping to change next year will be his consistent presence on the scoresheet, he knows there’s more to his game than just putting pucks in the net.
“I need to be better in all areas. I think a lot of guys, besides our first line, had trouble producing and I want to help out more. I wasn’t happy with a lot of areas of my game,” offered Bourque, who dished out 86 hits and finished with a minus-19 differential in 2011-12. “I think having been here for the past few months and getting to know the guys has been good and I’m happy here. Going into next year, everything will be easier just because I’ll know what to expect right off the bat.”
The proven sharp-shooter also has a good idea what fans can expect from him going forward.
“What I’ve shown isn’t the player I should be, but I have four years left on my contract and hopefully I’m going to be here for four more years to show that,” he promised. “It was a tough year and a lot of stuff happened but there are no excuses: I’m capable of being better and I need to be better.
“I want to help this team going forward. We have a great group of guys going into next year and we have a lot of stuff to look forward to.”
Shauna Denis is a writer for canadiens.com.
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