My soapbox to proclaim on hockey, football, politics, life. Spotlighted will be the Montreal Canadiens, and the San Diego Chargers, at least until the Vancouver GlassSmashers' inaugural NFL season.
Thursday, May 24, 2012
It's too early to write off René Bourque for the 2012-13 season
I know it’s trendy to write off René Bourque, a big winger who can skate and score because he had a bad stretch of fourty games, but I think it’s way too early to give up on the guy. We seem to, in our haste to rid our roster of Scott Gomez, want to include Tomas Kaberle in the divestment, and reasonably so, but we then get caught up in the excitement and throw Mr. Bourque on the sacrificial pyre.
Here’s what he went through last season:
1) Started the year on a Flames team going through some turbulence with a new GM and lame duck coach, and with fans expecting too much from an aging lineup.
2) Two on-ice incidents that lead to suspensions. He’s called out in the media with some very strong attacks on his character, something which isn’t usually seen, unless your name is Avery or Yashin. One of the players he injured doesn’t return until the end of the season, and his name constantly re-surfaces in a negative light. Max Pacioretty explained that his suspension unsettled him and he had to re-think how he played and hit after returning to action. Mr. Bourque had to deal with two suspensions, and much stronger criticism.
3) Before he comes back from his second suspension, he is traded to the Canadiens, away from a team in his home province. His first game with the Canadiens is against the Capitals, and the spotlight is trained on him as the media expects/demands he fights to ‘face the music’.
4) The team he is now on is also in flux, with a new, even more lame-duck coach, a GM with no credibility in the league and the dressing room. They are beset with injuries, notably to the Captain and the best defenceman.
Now, a player like Brian Skrudland or Vincent Damphousse or Kirk Muller would have dealt with this tumult and risen to the occasion, but we knew going in that Mr. Bourque is not a brash, outgoing leader type of player, but rather more of a withdrawn, fragile player. It’s not surprising that he had trouble producing under these circumstances. We can hope that Marc Bergevin has some insights on how best to use and motivate him from his days with the Blackhawks. Mario Tremblay remembers him as a player difficult to play against when he was coaching the Minnesota Wild, maybe he can recapture that form here with the right coaching, teammates, linemates, and expectations.
Michel Thérrien likes to say that the easiest thing to do is to get rid of players, but the hardest is to find them. So let’s not give up on a 6’2″ 220 lbs winger who can skate and score 25 goals and can even fight when needed. He’s a player to be coached and developed, not another asset to squander.