was just 10 years old when his Hockey Hall of Fame father glided across the ice one last time.
The last impression Bourque had of father in the NHL was 2001, when the old man was taking a lap around Pepsi Center as a member of the Colorado Avalanche
with the Stanley Cup raised high above his head after his team had just scored a Game 7 victory against the New Jersey Devils
Being the son of a legend certainly has its advantages.
"It's neat more than anything and it hasn't made things tough for me at all," Bourque told NHL.com. "Obviously there's going to be a little adversity, but you learn to deal with it -- there are more positives than negatives. It's great having him there as support and to hear his feedback and just seeing what he does day in and day out; the professionalism he brings to everything he does is great."
Bourque, now 18, considers his elementary-school years a period of his life that was educational and enlightening.
"It's so surreal to me now, but when I was living through it, I actually didn't think, 'Wow, what am I doing?' or anything like that," he said. "But I remember going to the rink with my brother (Chris) and seeing and getting to know all the guys, watching the way they carried themselves and what it actually took to be a professional hockey player."
And becoming a professional hockey player now is at the top of Bourque's to-do list. While nothing will come easy, particularly for a 5-foot-9, 170-pound forward, he's determined to make an impression in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League this season for the Quebec Remparts and coach Patrick Roy
. In 13 games this season, he's posted 6 goals (including 2 power-play goals), 9 points and a plus-3 rating.
Bourque, who had for 20 goals and 46 points in 48 games with the U.S. National Team Developmental Program under-18 team last season, likes the idea of having an NHL legend like Roy now instructing him.
has a great mind for the game and his track record speaks for itself," Bourque said. "He's done wonders for that program in Quebec and I can't wait to get started."
Bourque, who passed on an opportunity to play for coach Dick Umile and the University of New Hampshire, was drafted in the third round (No. 80) by the Rangers this past June. He participated in the Traverse City Prospects Tournament in September, posting 1 goal, 3 points and 11 shots. He then was invited to Rangers training camp before being returned to Quebec.
"I think I do have a long way to go and it's going to be a journey, but I'm in Quebec now and I feel like I'm in a good place," he said. "It was hard decision to turn down UNH because I gained so much respect for Dick Umile, but after weighing out both options, I felt like it was best for my development to go to Quebec.
"Just the atmosphere, the amount of games and the style of play is more similar to the pro game. I think learning from a great mind like Patrick Roy
would be a tough option to turn down, so I'll see how it goes before giving it my best shot to make the big team."
Of course, in order to make the big team, the relatively smallish Bourque is going to have to find a way to play bigger than his frame -- something he was willing to do in Traverse City.
"I thought Ryan showed competitiveness and grit," said Hartford Wolf Pack assistant coach J.J. Daigneault. "He shows a lot of feistiness. He was a pleasant surprise in Traverse City."
Bourque, whose 5-foot-11 father certainly wouldn't be confused with some of the taller defensemen of his era, uses that size disadvantage as motivation every shift.
"I think being a small guy has some negatives, but it also has positives," Ryan Bourque
said. "You could be slippery and get in and out of places that big guys can't really get into. But I don't play like a small guy. I think I'm bigger and I don't really have much fear out there so I like to mix it up. I make up for being small through other phases of my game."
Contact Mike Morreale at email@example.com