Hershey Bears Retire Chris Bourque’s Jersey No. 17 Ahead of Game Against Springfield Thunderbirds

Screenshot: The Hershey Bears

Ahead of their Saturday night game against the Springfield Thunderbirds, the Hershey Bears officially retired the jersey number of longtime forward and former Washington Capitals draft pick Chris Bourque.

The Bears, who announced the honor last year, honored Bourque ahead of their game against Springfield, with a ceremony attended by Bourque’s family including brother Ryan and father Ray (who played a Hall of Fame career in the NHL across 22 seasons) and former teammates.

Ahead of the game, the current Bears players wore commemorative No. 17 jerseys for the last time in the familiar “swiping bear” uniform (all put up for auction to benefit local charities), which Bourque played the majority of his professional career (which included 51 NHL contests) in the Chocolate and White; over 604 games in Hershey across nine seasons (two stints). Bourque recorded 586 Points (196 G, 390 A), fifth-best in franchise history. Bourque was a key component in the Bears’ run to three Calder Cup championship runs during his time in Hershey, and appeared in five American Hockey League All-Star Games (of six) as a Bear. He is also the only player in franchise history to lead the league in scoring two times.

Giant Center was opened early to all fans attending, with the first 10,000 receiving a special replica banner, of which 17 were signed by Bourque. The Bears also gifted Chris a pained No. 17 sweater accompanied by a five-pound Hershey’s Chocolate bar.

The ceremony featured a number of speakers, including Chris’ younger brother Ryan, who played parts of two seasons with his brother in Hershey. In his speech, the younger Bourque brother reflected on life lessons and hockey memories with his sibling, holding back emotions during the speech. Additionally, former teammates and coaches paid tribute in a video montage.

Bourque, who ranks 20th in AHL history in scoring, was originally drafted by the Capitals in the second-round of the 2004 NHL Entry Draft and appeared in 13 games in a Washington sweater (along with stints in Pittsburgh and Boston). Despite his prolific career in the AHL, Bourque was never able to crack an NHL roster on a more permanent basis. In his speech, Bourque thanked his teammates, family, coaches, and the fans of Chocolatetown for their support, saying that Bears’ fans’ passion for their team and hockey is “second to none”. After the speech, Bourque and his family watched the banner with the familiar No. 17 rise to the rafters of Giant Center.

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. Michael joined the NoVa Caps team in 2015, and is most proud of the growth of the NoVa Caps community in that time. An avid photographer, Michael resides in VA.
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