Several months ago, at the beginning of the season, I wrote an article about Hershey Bears forward Chris Bourque, the son of NHL Hall of Famer Ray Bourque, and how his American Hockey League (AHL) career was worthy of the AHL Hall of Fame. Nearing the end of the 2015-16 season, Bourque has solidified his place as a future Hall of Famer.
On Wednesday night, the Bears defeated the Lehigh Valley Phantoms 8-0. Chris and his brother Ryan (acquired at the NHL Trade Deadline by the Capitals) combined for a total of five points.
Chris was drafted by the Capitals with the 33rd overall pick in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft but never developed into an NHL regular. In 51 career NHL games played with the Capitals, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Boston Bruins, Bourque has only two goals and six assists for eight points, and is a minus-12. He spent his first six AHL games with the Caps’ then-AHL affiliate Portland Pirates, recording a goal and an assist. In his first stint with the Bears (2005-2012), Bourque recorded 131 goals and 262 assists for 393 points in 392 games. Traded to the Bruins at the conclusion of the 2011-12 season, Bourque spent some time in the KHL before returning to the AHL’s Hartford Wolfpack, where he recorded 29 goals and 37 assists for 66 points. He signed a two-year, two-way contract with the Capitals on July 2, 2015.
Bourque currently has 28 goals, 43 assists, and a league-leading 71 points in 62 games played. He is on pace for a career-high 34 goals and 87 points and throughout his career, he has been nothing but successful. In almost nine full seasons, he has recorded 198 goals, 370 assists, and 568 points in 566 games played. He has won three Calder Cup championships (all with Hershey) and won the Jack A. Butterfield Trophy as the AHL playoffs MVP in 2010. He has also been selected to four All-Star games and has received the John B. Sollenger Trophy as the AHL’s leading scorer.
While he may never become an everyday NHL player like his father, Bourque is carving his own Hall of Fame-worthy career in the AHL. His resume and accolades speak for themselves and at just 29-years old, may still have his best years ahead. Bourque is one of the best players in Bears franchise history and when all is said and done, he could be THE best. And one day, the Bears might have yet another player inducted into the AHL Hall of Fame.
By Michael Fleetwod