5 Years Later: Kris Letang Remembers Luc Bourdon, the Player and the Person

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by Sammy Emerald

Northwest Correspondent, White Cover Magazine

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Five years ago, to the day, Luc Bourdon was killed in a tragic motorcycle accident near his hometown of Shippagan, New Brunswick.

The immediate reaction from us in Canuckland – and everyone in Hockeyworld (these are real places) – was to discuss Bourdon the hockey player and occasionally Bourdon the person. But, despite our best effort to do the latter, we couldn’t, because we only knew Bourdon the hockey player. Maybe that’s a telling statement of just how young he was on May 29, 2008 (he was 21) or maybe it simply highlights how much we could have gotten to know about him.

Either way, the only sources we can rely on are the ones who knew him off the ice, and they were revisited on Wednesday.

“When you crack him and get close to him he’s really friendly,” said Kris Letang (to Yahoo! Sports and Puck Daddy) about a month ago. Letang was Bourdon’s best friend and now a Stanley Cup-winning defenceman with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

“Every time I step on the ice he’s in my thoughts… He was a guy that embraced every day of hockey. Just for my every day I step on the ice I have a thought about how he would work and present himself and try to get better. Every night I think about him before games, making sure I’m ready and all the things he taught me.”

Of course, there’s Bourdon’s mother, Suzanne Boucher, who was interviewed over the phone by the Canada.com’s Iain McIntyre in May, 2008, only two days after his death.

“(Shippagan)’s a very small city — only 2,500 people. We are a French community. The kids around here, they dreamed to have a chance to see Luc Bourdon bring the Stanley Cup here. He was a hero. That was the dream of a lot of kids.

“In our house, we were very close to Luc. I used to have [an outdoor] hockey rink at my house. All the time, he was here to play hockey with my two sons.

“I lost a good friend today. I lost one of my sons.”

For his part, McIntyre summed up Bourdon’s legacy quite well and honestly.

“What did you really know about Luc Bourdon? Better yet, did you care about him? Too often we view hockey players as commodities, like potash or lima beans — something of a certain value to be retained in the hope of appreciation or bartered for something else.”

Bourdon died young and he died a young hockey player. Five years later, it’s important the Canucks and their host city remember this and continue to pay tribute to him. Whether it’s a Stanley Cup or even just more ‘Archer’ homages from Alex Burrows, it all has to count, on the ice and off.

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*from Nucks Misconduct and SBNation, on the day of Bourdon’s death in 2008:

“In the next few days, more pucks will be dropped, more scrums will be fought, more goals will be scored and eventually a Cup will be won, beer will be consumed, the draft will move the next crop of superstars, trades will occur, 30 training camps will begin, another season will start and endless stories on every player will begin anew. But as we watch Crosby lead his team right now, one can’t help but think of Bourdon, selected a mere nine spots behind him three years ago, is now gone.

“Shippagan lost their only NHL-caliber son, the Vancouver Canucks lost a big part of their future and the NHL lost one of their budding talents. Most importantly, the Bourdons lost their son way, way too soon.

“RIP.”