Instead he called Sinden. The Bruins solicited offers from five contending teams, and though the Avalanche wasn't Bourque's first choice—unlike W.C. Fields, he hankered to play in Philadelphia, because the Flyers are based closer to his home—he seems as smitten by his Colorado teammates as they are by him.
Before Bourque's first game with the Avalanche, on March 7 in Calgary, Sakic publicly offered to yield his captaincy to Bourque—a deferential but silly offer that Bourque refused. More meaningfully, Deadmarsh, whose ritual during games, like Bourque's, includes being the first player on the ice after the starting goalie, said he would cede his place in line; Bourque declined this offer, too. Colorado won 8-3, and Bourque played 20:26 in the first two periods, finishing with an assist and a +4 rating. "He gave us so much life," Miller says. "You see the energy in that game? It was almost like the guys were trying to impress Ray and Dave. Like, Look at me! See what I can do!" Bourque sat out the third period with a slight groin pull sustained in warmups, an injury he didn't mention until the second intermission. "I'm thinking you can't pull the 'chute after warmups of your first game," Bourque said.
In a 4-2 victory over the Edmonton Oilers last Friday that pushed the Avalanche into first place in the Northwest Division, Bourque scored two goals from the blue line as an aroused power-play unit whipped the puck around so smartly that it deserved the accompaniment of Sweet Georgia Brown. "I can't remember the last time I scored two in a game," says Bourque, who most recently did it on March 3, 1997. "You're my age, you forget stuff."
Bourque's skating is more leisurely than it was several years ago, but he still has a low, accurate shot, and with his massive rump and thick thighs, he remains a superb, physical defender. Colorado might not have the cohesion of other teams—"There are so many stars there now, they'll be bumping into one another," Oilers president Glen Sather said after the trade—but it has the most complete defenseman of his generation and as of Sunday had not lost in March.
Bourque will settle in for a last grab at a ring he hopes isn't brass. He will learn his teammates' nicknames. He was already acquainted with Roy, Sakic and Foote from the Olympics; had played with Dave Reid and Jeff Odgers in Boston; and had had a full-body shave with assistant coach Jacques Cloutier when they were rookie teammates in the Quebec junior league almost a quarter century ago. He will see. "If I play the way I can, I'll help this team," Bourque says. "On this team, I move the puck to the forwards and—bang!—they're off. That's what I need to enhance my game. If I get that, I'll have no problem about playing next year"—maybe in Colorado, certainly not with the Bruins.
He will return to Boston in the summer, back to his house in a northern suburb, back to his old ways and old friends, but this is his hockey sabbatical, his chance to do something different, to win a Cup. Says Bourque, "I was telling Dave on the plane that those two Stanley Cup runs"—the Bruins reached the finals in 1988 and '90—"were the fondest hockey memories I have. I wanted that feeling back, to feel that my team has a chance."
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