On top of all his very formidable physical assets, Canuck draft pick Luc Bourdon apparently has a very good set of ears.
After being blanked 4-0 in an intersquad scrimmage Tuesday night, Team Canada head coach Brent Sutter had words for Bourdon and his Team White cohorts.
"I went and had a little chit chat with them before the game," said Sutter. "I thought they responded. They increased their intensity level and their emotional level, and it showed out there on the ice."
The white side hung an 8-1 drubbing on Team Red Wednesday night with Bourdon collecting three assists - though his most impressive shift came late in the third on the penalty kill.
An ornery Benoit Pouliot of the Sudbury Wolves - sore from the beating on the scoreboard - took a poke at Bourdon deep in white's zone.
"I know he was a bit frustrated in an 8-1 game like that," said Bourdon, "but that's part of the game. I just followed him that way."
Bourdon didn't just follow Pouliot, he chased him.
The Canuck draft pick retaliated with a John Daly-esque hack, and a clear invitation to scrap. No knuckles were thrown, but the pair kept jawing right on into the penalty box.
Needless to say, Sutter was pleased.
"Good," he responded, when asked about the chippy end to the game, "at least they responded and were upset a little bit."
Judging by the way Bourdon protected his zone, he was more than upset.
"Yesterday we were a bit flat during the game, but tonight we showed more competition and battle on the ice."
Team White scored three first-period goals on another Canuck pick in Shawinigan goaltender Julien Ellis, who was making his intersquad scrimmage debut.
A pair of college forwards did much of the damage for the white shirts. Jonathan Toews of North Dakota and Michigan's Andrew Cogliano each had two goals, while David Bolland of London, Kyle Chipchura of Prince Albert, Ryan O'Marra of Erie, and Devin Setoguchi from Saskatoon all had singles.
Peterborough's Steve Downie had the lone goal for Team Red.
"We had a lot more emotion in the bench and in the dressing room," said Bourdon. "I think that was the main thing tonight."
Watching the game from the lower bowl, Canuck director of player development Stan Smyl liked what he saw from Bourdon.
"He's moving his legs more," said Smyl. "He's not standing around as the whole white team did last night. They weren't reacting, they were watching."
"Tonight it's reversed. They're making things happen, and Luc's making things happen for himself just by his skating - which is a real key for him."
Bourdon sparked white's attack rushing the puck out of the zone and up ice on a static Team Red defense.
On Team White's third goal, Bourdon blew through the neutral zone to create an odd-man rush before setting up his defense partner Logan Stephenson in the slot.
Bourdon's ability to push the play from the back end shouldn't come as any surprise. Canuck coaches and management watched Bourdon blow through NHL defenses in his first professional training camp in September.
"He opened a few eyes," said Smyl. "But if you take a look at him as an athlete, the first thing you notice is his skating. He's got a real jump. He's very powerful and fast, and he likes to be active."
Bourdon was one of the final cuts made by Marc Crawford.
"Sometimes things aren't fair in life, and even though he had a real good training camp, he was sent back [to Shawinigan]. We looked at the scenarios and thought he'd have a really good opportunity and make the World Junior team, and that experience will benefit him in the long run."
Sutter won't make cuts until after Thursday night's scrimmage against the UBC Thunderbirds, though Bourdon's almost certainly exempt anyway.
He anchored the defense of Team Canada's silver medal-winning squad at the 2005 Under-18 World Championships last year in the Czech Republic, and was named the tournament's most outstanding defenseman.
Bourdon is being counted on to lead a young Canadian defense in Vancouver that has just one returning skater in Medicine Hat's Cam Barker.
"We have a pretty good bunch of guys here on defense," said Bourdon. "Maybe we're a bit younger, but we're big and we skate well with the puck. We can move it real quick and we are a great group for physical play."
If Bourdon's play Wednesday night is any indication, Team Canada's defense will be better than "great" with the physical play - they'll be downright mean.