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After Playing Career, Bordeleau Developing Preds Prospects Into NHLers

Original Predators Player Sebastien Bordeleau Thriving in New Career with Organization, Shares Stories of Time in Nashville On and Off Ice

by Justin Hershey @justinhershey26 / NashvillePredators.com

When Sébastien Bordeleau finally hung up his skates on a 17-year professional hockey career, the next chapter of his life on the ice had already begun.

The seven-year NHL veteran played 251 games in North America before an accomplished career with SC Bern in Switzerland, but his next journey was focused on helping a new generation of hockey players achieve their dreams. And that started with his son, Thomas.

"When I retired, I wanted to develop my son as a hockey player," Bordeleau said on the Preds Official Podcast. "So, I started a bunch of programs, and I got connected with the Canadian Women's National Team and started to work with them. And then after that, I got connected with Montreal's farm team [the Laval Rocket]."

Fatherly love drove the former centerman into a new career, much like his own father's support helped him achieve his NHL dreams decades before. Bordeleau's father, Paulin, played six years in the NHL from 1973-1979. The native of Québec stayed in his home country for all of his 234 professional games, splitting six years into a pair of stints with the Vancouver Canucks and Québec Nordiques.

With his skills developing and his father's experience, Bordeleau was able to carve out a successful playing career - one that included a number of years playing alongside a young Roman Josi with SC Bern.

"Roman came in with us and he was 16 or 17 at the time, I was 34. And he was our most skilled offensive defenseman as a 16 or 17-year-old," Bordeleau said. "The thing that amazed me the most is that he kept progressing. And I think he still does. He wants to learn the game, he's working super hard, he's very dedicated."

As the sun began setting on his own career in Switzerland, he started helping his son develop into a prospect. Then, after two opportunities with the Canadian Women's National Team and the Laval Rocket, he joined the Nashville Predators development staff.

Bordeleau currently serves as the Predators Forward Development Coach, focused on helping the Preds wingers and centermen hone their skills regardless of what level they sit within the organization. From junior leagues all the way to the NHL, Bordeleau has made it his priority to be a resource for each current and future Predator.

"My job is to develop hockey players within the organization, but also in the summer I take care of some of the pro guys. So, I am able to build good trust with some players, so sometimes they come in and talk to me about different things and they know I can help them with their game," Bordeleau said. "There's not many situations that I haven't been in as a player growing up around that age so I'm trying to be there and to put myself in their skates."

Bordeleau's first experience with the Predators came as a player, during which he played 146 games and tallied the organization's first ever overtime game-winning goal. The Canadian was a member of the Predators first roster in 1998-99 and those fond memories of Nashville were the main catalyst behind his excitement to help the next generation of Preds.

"Nashville has been just amazing. The fans, the people, the sponsors, everybody that we met when we got there… Everybody welcomed us with open arms," Bordeleau said. "Coming from Montreal, going to an expansion team was a big adjustment. People didn't know the game. So, the rules are on the jumbotron, and I remember my girlfriend, my wife today, at the time was sitting with someone that I met in Nashville, a friend, and she was explaining every whistle pretty much. He was asking, 'Why are they changing so fast? They've been on the ice for 45 seconds, not even a minute, then they're going to the bench.' So little things like this."

Needless to say things have changed around Broadway since Bordeleau's initial introduction to the Music City. But one thing that hasn't is General Manager David Poile's focus on building and developing from within. Particularly with player development, alignment from the top is crucial and Bordeleau's ability to buy into the culture that Poile and Head Coach John Hynes have set has made him a valuable addition to the Preds development staff.

"[I can give] an outside look that could be something different from what they see every day. When you're really into it every day, you sometimes don't see the big picture… Sometimes [players] get into a comfort zone and kind of plateau," Bordeleau said. "David has always been really good with me, and I think I've always been an honest worker and they respected that."

Arguably Bordeleau's biggest development success has indeed been his son, Thomas, who was drafted 38th overall in the 2020 Draft by the San Jose Sharks. But since joining the Predators in 2019, the elder Bordeleau has reveled in a number of other success stories.

One of his first pupils, Philip Tomasino, is already showing the power of player development. After a year in the Preds minor-league system, the former first-round pick is making a splash with the pro club in his inaugural season, racking up seven points (4g-3a) in just 20 games thus far.

Bordeleau also closely monitors many notable Preds prospects around the world, such as Egor Afanasyev, Luke Evangelista, Gunnarwolfe Fontaine and Fedor Svechkov just to name a few.

"[I help] manage the little crises that happen during the season or the ups and downs and also detail about the games, because you can get away with things in junior that you won't necessarily once you turn pro," Bordeleau said. "It's all on them. I'm guiding them, but they're doing it on their own and I can obviously help them along the way. If they keep 10 percent of what I'm saying, good, that's the goal. That's why I'm here."

What started as a father's desire to guide his son to the NHL has developed into a meaningful and valuable second career for Bordeleau. He was with the Preds in their infancy and is now making an impact on young Preds each and every day.

"The best part [of my job] is being there for them, and when someone calls me and needs my help, finding a solution," Bordeleau said. "That's what I'm trying to do, and if we can't find a solution, we try to look harder to try and find another solution… There's always a way. If there's a will, there's a way, so I'm not worried about it."

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