Forgive Rene Bourque
if it feels a little weird to be in the visitor's dressing room at the Scotiabank Saddledome.
The longtime Calgary Flames
forward makes his long-anticipated return to the rink for the first time since being dealt to the Montreal Canadiens
on Jan. 12.
"It's different," Bourque said in advance of Tuesday's game against his former club. "You come to the rink, and getting dressed in the visitor locker room for the first time in four years, it's a different feeling, but I'm excited to play tonight."
Bourque was part of a swap that brought Michael Cammalleri
to the Flames. Though admitting to not being fluent in French at the time of the trade, adjusting to life in Montreal hasn't been too stressful.
"I haven't been playing as good as I'd like to be, but as far as fitting in with the team and getting used to the city -- I love living there. It's been a good change so far," he said.
And how has Bourque's French progressed?
"Not as much as I'd like, but it's coming slowly," he said, leaving the biggest change he's encountered to on-ice activities.
"It's Montreal," he said. "It's the Mecca of hockey. The fans are crazy."
While he’s still learning what to expect out of Habs fans back in Montreal, Bourque is a little more uncertain the reception he’ll get from the Flames faithful in his first tour of duty back in Alberta.
"I don't think it'll be anything crazy," he said. "I don't think I'll be booed, hopefully not. It happens all the time, fans are used to it. We'll see what happens."
The 6-foot-2 product of Lac La Biche, Alberta, might find it stranger lining up against his friends for the first time.
"I talk to a lot of guys. Mostly texting," Bourque said. "I have a lot of good friends on the other side, so I hope they do well."
But not well enough to beat the Canadiens.
"There's nothing better that I'd like to do than beat my old team," Bourque said.
, who captained Bourque for his 249 games in a Flames jersey, is looking forward to catching up with his former teammate on the ice.
"It's always unique and a little bit different, especially the first time you face ex-teammates and friends you've played with for a while," Iginla said. "I imagine it'll be different for him. It is different seeing a guy you've played with for a long time and battled with; now you're battling against."
Which may have Bourque feeling a little strange in the Saddledome for the first time in his career.
Here's the projected lineup for the Canadiens:
- David Desharnais
- Erik Cole
- Tomas Plekanec
- Rene Bourque
- Lars Eller
- Ryan White
- Petteri Nokelainen
- Brad Staubitz
- P.K. Subban
- Yannick Weber
- Chris Campoli