MONTREAL – “I need to get back on track and have a big season in 2012-13,” affirmed Rene Bourque last summer.
The 31-year-old veteran certainly delivered on that statement.
Literally parachuted into Montreal during the 2011-12 campaign, Bourque experienced his fair share of difficulties integrating himself into a Canadiens team that was already struggling itself. Recognizing that he needed to turn things around, the right-winger vowed to rebound and that’s exactly what he did, starting the season off at a torrid pace.
“I was happy with how my season got going,” confessed Bourque, who amassed 10 points, including five goals in his first 17 games. “Then, there was the concussion. It took me a while to get over it completely. I started to feel better at the end of the year and in the playoffs. But, it was such a short season that it’s tough to come back from a concussion that costs you half a season.”
Bourque missed 21 games due to the concussion. For a player at the top of his game, being sidelined for an extensive period of time was hard to take.
“I was playing well and I was trying to build on that, hoping that I’d be good to go for 82 games next season,” explained Bourque, who has suited up for just 65 games since contesting his first game with the Canadiens on January 15, 2012.
The concussion, however, didn’t stop the physically imposing forward from asserting himself on the ice, most notably in the playoffs. In five postseason games, he scored two goals and also dished out 12 hits.
At the midway point of a six-year contract he signed with the Calgary Flames, Bourque is hoping to spend the next three seasons in Montreal, a city that he’s come to appreciate more and more each day.
“I know what to expect in Montreal, from the fans and from the media. I may have only played 60-plus games, but I’ve been here for a year-and-a-half. It’s been a crazy two years with the lockout. But, I like it here and I’m excited for next season,” confessed Bourque, who sees the recent success of the team as a likely incentive for free agents to choose the Canadiens over other squads. “I think that everyone wants to play here. Montreal is the type of place where everyone wants to play at least one game in a Habs jersey. With the success that we’ve had and the direction that the team is headed, I’m convinced that we’ll attract even more players.”
Not only is Bourque keen on praising the city, but also his team, which according to him, has embarked on a far different course than when he arrived.
“Since day one, there’s been a different mentality. The team’s attitude, in general, has been a lot better. Having young guys in the lineup, and Prusty [Brandon Prust]. The guys who came back knew that things had to change. And, we saw it in the faces of guys on the ice,” concluded Bourque. “You could see that everyone was happy to be here and that everyone wanted to win.”
And, it’s with that same desire to win that fans hope to see Bourque again in September.
Vincent Cauchy is a writer for canadiens.com. Translated by Matt Cudzinowski.
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