The Fair/Unfair Expectations Of Chris Bourque
When the Boston Bruins acquired Chris Bourque from the Washington Capitals in exchange for failed prospect Zach Hamill, they were looking to acquire a winger with some offensive upside to replace the departed Benoit Pouliot on Chris Kelly’s third line. Bourque has been a career minor leaguer with the Capitals organization. He won two Calder Cup championships with the Hershey Bears in 2009 and 2010. Bourque also received the Jack Butterfield award for playoff MVP in 2010 with 7 goals, 20 assists, and a +7 in 21 games.
Despite all his success in the AHL, where he has 132 goals, 263 assists, and a + 50 in 398 games, he has never been able to translate his excellent minor league offensive output into anything significant at the NHL level. For years it was a question in Washington as to whether or not he ever really got the chance. The Capitals were loaded with offensive weapons in Bourque’s time there like Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, and Alex Semin. With so many offensive weapons available, Bourque played in a checking role detrimental to his play style, and left off the powerplay where he plays his best hockey.
So you can imagine that AHL veteran was pretty happy when he was acquired by his hometown Boston Bruins, the team his father once played for. Bourque was signed to a two year deal and was to be given an opportunity to make the team out of camp. I cannot say if he would have given the presences of Jordan Caron, Jared Knight, and Ryan Spooner, but he was definitely going to get a shot. The lockout delayed his chance to join the NHL Bruins and he was sent back to the all too familiar AHL with the Providence Bruins. Bourque took his time with the baby B’s and ran with it, he led the team in scoring with 8 goals, 2o assists, and a plus 2 in 32 games up until being called up to play in Boston.
Following his excellent play, Bourque was able to step right on to the Bruins roster due to a lackluster performance from Caron, a still green Spooner, and an injury to Knight. It is perhaps here that the expectations of Bourque began to transform among the many Bruins faithful. I think it is a combination of two things that have led to the disappointment in the winger’s time in Boston so far. For one, he carries the name “Bourque” on his back, a name made famous by his Hall of Fame father Raymond Bourque. Perhaps some fans thought playing with the hometown Bruins in the house his father helped build, would motivate the winger to reach his potential and turn the impressive AHL output into NHL output. The second possibility is that of his AHL numbers. I will admit that I thought he could turn it around with the Boston Bruins and help contribute more here than he has in any of his previous NHL stints.
So what is/was a fair expectation of a player who despite excellent play at the minor league level, never really has made an impact at the major level? To me he has met my expectations more or less. I was hoping a little bit more of an offensive showing, but am not surprised to see that this has not been the case. He is fourth among Bruins forwards in hits with 25, behind Milan Lucic, Chris Kelly, and Shawn Thornton. He is also tied for second in powerplay points with 3 behind Dougie Hamilton, David Krejci, and Tyler Seguin who are all tied with 4.
When I watch Chris Bourque play, I see a player who is literally putting 110% into every single shift. It is the amount of effort he puts in which makes it so difficult to see him not realize his full potential. I believe he will be inevitably replaced as the season moves on. It is possible he could stick with the team if an injury should happen, but to me it is becoming apparent more and more every day, that he needs to be upgraded and the Bruins will likely look to do so during this season’s trade deadline. There is always time for him to turn it around in the next couple of games, but I believe the Bruins are in need of more “sure thing” on the third line, if it is ever going to get back on track.
Expectations will always follow Bourque because of the name on his back and his abilities at the minor league level. It’s too bad his NHL career leaves all wondering what might have been.
You can follow me on twitter here for all Bruins news and notes: Mattjacob64