Hershey Bears Will Retire Chris Bourque’s No. 17 Next Season: “The Best Part of My Career Was Playing in Hershey”

Sean Simmer/The-Patriot News

The Hershey Bears, American Hockey League affiliate of the Washington Capitals, announced on Saturday that the team would be retiring the No. 17 jersey during the 2022-23 season for forward Chris Bourque, the son of NHL great Ray Bourque.

Drafted by the Capitals with the 33rd overall pick in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, Bourque failed to crack an NHL lineup during his professional career (he played 51 games with three NHL clubs), but spent parts of nine seasons during his professional career with the Chocolate and White, helping the club to three Calder Cup championships in 2006, 2009, and 2010.

The Bears posted a video of Hershey Bears Vice President of Hockey Operations (and a former teammate of Bourque’s) Bryan Helmer calling the Boston, Massachusetts native with the news.

The ceremony, which will take place on January 14, 2023, will be the first such event to grace Hershey since the Bears added alumni Ralph Keller’s likeness to the No. 3 banner already raised for Frank Mathers. Just one other player in franchise history, the late Mike Nykoluk (who spent 14 seasons in a Bears sweater), has been solely honored with a number retirement.

Bourque played a total of 604 regular season games with Hershey, ranks fifth in franchise history with 586 Points (196 Goals, 390 Assists), is the only player in the history of the team to lead the AHL in scoring on two occasions, appeared in five of six career AHL All-Star games as a member of the Bears, and en route to the aforementioned three Calder Cups, finished as the Bears’ all-time playoff scorer.

Helmer, who captained the Bears to their final two Calder Cups, said in a statement:

“Chris Bourque is one of the greatest players to ever wear the Chocolate and White, and it’s only fitting that his number 17 be raised to the rafters among the finest players in our organization’s rich history. Chris is synonymous with the success the Bears enjoyed during his playing days, and the impact he had in Chocolatetown is timeless. We’re excited to be able to honor his legacy with his friends, family, and our fans on Jan. 14.”

Bourque played 51 NHL games with the Caps, Pittsburgh Penguins, and Boston Bruins, recording two goals and eight points. He retired in April, finishing as the AHL’s 20th all-time leading scorer.

By Michael Fleetwood

About Michael Fleetwood

Michael Fleetwood was born into a family of diehard Capitals fans and has been watching games as long as he can remember. He was born the year the Capitals went to their first Stanley Cup Final, and is a diehard Caps fan, the owner of the very FIRST Joe Beninati jersey and since then, has met Joe himself. His favorite player became former Capital Nate Schmidt after he met Schmidt in a Hershey hotel while in Hershey PA to see the Bears play, shortly after Schmidt was injured during a conditioning stint. Michael is also a fan of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Orioles, and enjoys photography, watching WildEarth TV's SafariLive live safaris, and watching animals in his spare time. (Photo by Adam Vingan in 2014 at the Capitals Development Camp).
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