Former Habs draft pick left professional hockey to study at Concordia
It was big news for the Stingers and U Sports when the 22-year-old signed a letter of intent announcing he would join them. Stingers head coach Marc-André Élément said on the Stingers’s website that Bourque will have an immediate impact on the program. He added that the defenceman “is an exceptional player, student and leader,” and many teams were after him.
The Longueuil native played nearly 250 games in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) with the Rimouski Océanic and Saint John Sea Dogs, winning the league championships in 2015 and 2017.
On June 30, 2018, the Canadiens traded Bourque to the Winnipeg Jets in exchange for forward Joel Armia, goaltender Steve Mason, and two draft picks.
“The experience I gained during my career will allow me to come [to Concordia] with maybe a different vision of hockey and the way it is played,” said Bourque about his career the past few seasons. “I will be able to share that with the boys and, at the same time, it will add to my curriculum vitae,” he added.
Bourque explained that his decision of playing hockey at the university level and joining the Stingers is because he wants to earn a degree and focus on his career outside of hockey.
“I could not see myself continuing to play at a professional level without a bachelor’s degree,” Bourque said. “I wanted to have a security with that bachelor’s degree in my pocket when I decide [playing professional hockey] is over for me and move on to something else.”
The defenceman added that education has always been important for him, and he’s always achieved good grades in school. Despite Bourque’s hockey success, his intentions to complete a bachelor’s degree never changed.
“For sure, with the opportunity I had to play [hockey] at a professional level, I told myself to at least try and see after,” Bourque said. “However, I always had in mind to take that decision [of completing a bachelor’s degree].”
After playing 46 games with the Laval Rocket last season, Bourque decided to pursue that dream, and that’s when Élement and the Stingers approached him. He saw himself as a Concordia student right away.
“It’s the team that had the best approach for me personally. I thought we had a fit,” Bourque said. “I thought me and Élément had a good personality match. I liked his program, and it corresponded with what I wanted to live. It was also in Montreal, so the location was good. Everything was fitting well together.”
Bourque’s arrival happens just after the midway through the Stingers’s regular season. The Stingers are in a tight battle in the standings, in sixth place with 25 points, just three points behind third.
“I want us to perform, that’s for sure,” Bourque said. “However, it is mainly about having fun and getting in the beat of university.”
Bourque describes his game as efficient and hates making mistakes. The defenceman occasionally joins the rush, but said he never forgets his main role.
“I always think defensively first,” Bourque said. “However, I am a defenceman who supports the offence a lot, and helps the forwards to produce offensively.”
Bourque, who wears number 74 with his new team, has played four games with the Stingers so far and has three assists. They have a 3-1-0 record with him.
Main photo by Mackenzie Lad.