Work in Sports
Prepared for the worst
If Bourque is traded, Bruins fans will wish him the best
Posted: Saturday March 04, 2000 05:59 PM
BOSTON (AP) -- Babe Ruth and Roger Clemens had to leave Boston to win titles, and the city never forgot it. If Ray Bourque skates away in search of the Stanley Cup, though, fans here will cheer him on.
"I don't think anyone would be ticked to see him go," Jim Atkins said Saturday as he entered the FleetCenter for what could be Bourque's last game as a Bruin. "If he leaves, it stinks for Boston fans. It's our loss."
Bourque is an 18-time All-Star who has won the Norris Trophy five times as the league's top defenseman. But he has never won the Stanley Cup in his 21-year career - all of it with the Bruins.
The 39-year-old star is in the last year of his contract, and he has not decided whether to come back for another season. And though he had always said he wants to finish his career in Boston, he said this week he had not ruled out requesting a trade to a contender -- though he hadn't ruled it in yet, either.
Bourque does not have the right to either demand or veto a trade, but the Bruins said they would not make one against his wishes out of respect for his service to the team. The NHL's trading deadline is March 14; teams rumored to be in the hunt include Philadelphia, St. Louis and Detroit.
"If he wants a chance at the Cup, more power to him," said Scott MacAskill, eating fast food in the train station downstairs from the FleetCenter. "We should pay for the plane ticket to get him there."
Boston lost 3-0 to Philadelphia on Saturday, with Bourque ducking reporters after the game. After Ottawa visits Monday night, the Bruins leave town until after the trading deadline, so some fans came to the game unsure if they would ever see Bourque in the team's jersey again.
When he was introduced before the game, fans were still settling into their seats, and the greeting, while warm, was scattered. As the Zamboni cleared the ice between the first and second periods, a passenger held a sign saying "Bourque for Mayor!"
Boston has a long tradition of losing its stars, from Cy Young and Ruth to Clemens and Mo Vaughn. In between were Bobby Orr and Phil Esposito, two Bruins Hall of Famers who finished their careers elsewhere.
Red Sox fans cringed as Clemens and Wade Boggs won the World Series with the New York Yankees. Patriots fans saw former quarterback Jim Plunkett win the Super Bowl after leaving for the Oakland Raiders.
Even Doug Flutie, a Boston College and New England Patriots alum, won a few championships after leaving town, albeit in the Canadian Football League.
But no one seems to begrudge Bourque his last chance at a championship.
"I have no qualms. I'm not disgruntled with it," said John Allard Sr., a 10-year season ticket-holder who wore his Bourque jersey to the game for the occasion. "Whatever he wants in life, he deserves. And if that's what he wants good luck to him."