PRO HOCKEY NOTES
A breath of fresh heir at BU
Bourque-to-school days almost here
Incoming Boston University freshman Chris Bourque recently filled out the Terriers' standard player form that is kept on file at the school's sports information office. "It's all the usual stuff -- date of birth, height, weight, and all that," said Ed Carpenter, who has headed up the sports information department for some 30 years. "But the part I liked best was how he filled out the section that reads, `Father's occupation.' All he put was, `RETIRED.' "
The young Bourque is expected to launch his NCAA career on Oct. 8 when the Terriers play Miami (Ohio) in a season-opening tournament in Dayton. One month later, on Monday, Nov. 8, his RETIRED father, Ray Bourque, will be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.
"We've got games on Nov. 5 and 12," said Carpenter. "Normally, Jack [Parker] gives the guys off on either Sunday or Monday. So maybe if he gets an invitation to the induction, he'll give them Monday off. Yeah, Monday, that sounds good."
Meanwhile, Chris is only a couple of weeks away from making Commonwealth Avenue his next step toward following his famous father's footsteps to the NHL. Selected at the start of the second round by Washington in the June draft, the 5-foot-8-inch, 178-pound forward only last month impressed the Capitals staff during a one-week camp open to rookies and draft picks.
"He certainly was one of the better players in the camp," said general manager George McPhee. "You could see he had outstanding hockey sense and determination. Just a real rink rat, you know, the first one there each day, and you couldn't get him out of the place."
Given his game sense and skills, said McPhee, Bourque projects as a second-line forward in the NHL.
"Obviously, you don't want to get too excited off of what you see in a summer camp," said McPhee. "Our scouts were sold on him at the draft -- they really wanted him, and figured he wouldn't make it through the second round. They kept saying the kid can flat-out play, and that's what we saw at camp, too. Sure, his size comes up all the time, and there's no denying he's small. But my feeling has always been, if you're good enough . . ."
There are no plans, said McPhee, to hurry Bourque along the pro track. He'll have time to develop at BU, begin the transition to a game that will be faster than anything he saw at Cushing Academy. Then he'll see an even faster game in the pros.
"We'll just keep on eye on him," said McPhee. "We like what we've seen so far."
While his father's Black & Gold No. 77 rests comfortably in the Vault's rafters, Chris will wear the Red & White's No. 19. Player numbers, according to Carpenter, are all selected by Parker. No. 7 is already worn by David Van der Gulik, one of the Terriers' top scorers last season. As for 77, all BU numbers for the past 50-plus years have been below 40, save for goalie Jason Tapp, who was allowed to wear No. 83 in tribute to his ailing sister. Ryan Whitney wore No. 19 at BU last season but opted to turn pro with Pittsburgh.
"John Cullen also wore No. 19 here," said Carpenter, noting Cullen's later NHL success. "No truth to the rumor that Chris will pull it off before the opening game and present it to Cully."
Only one Terrier number -- Travis Roy's 24 -- has been retired.
Health comes first
Ex-Bruin captain Jason Allison, who has missed the last season and a half with residual symptoms from severe whiplash, has met with Hurricanes management about possibly signing with Carolina. "It could be a good fit there," said Bryant McBride, Allison's Waltham-based agent. "And there are a couple of other places that would make a lot of sense, too." But according to McBride, the 29-year-old Allison doesn't want to sign anywhere until his conditioning is close to 100 percent. He has been symptom-free since April, said McBride, but he's adhering to medical advice that has him training at a very moderate pace, building up strength and endurance. "He's maniacal about two things right now: 1. returning to the NHL, and 2. following doctor's orders to the letter," said McBride. "Trying to hurry back before [in Los Angeles] he thinks set him way back. He wants to get to the point where he feels he can come back and dominate, and to do that he has to have the strength to skate around with guys clinging to his back all the time." Bet on Allison, once he's ready to return, ringing up old pal Pat Burns, his coach during better days here in the Hub of Hockey, about playing for the Devils . . . Robert Reichel, captain of the Czech Republic's squad in the upcoming World Cup, didn't have his $4 million option picked up by the Maple Leafs. Now 33, he'll do at least a one-year hitch with Chemopetrol Litvinov . . . Meanwhile, the Czechs will have to play through the emotional trauma of losing head coach Ivan Hlinka, killed last Sunday night when the car he was driving collided with a truck in the Czech Republic. Just hours earlier, the 54-year-old Hlinka had persuaded superstar Jaromir Jagr to suit up for the team. "He was a hero for our generation," said Jagr. Nearly a quarter-century ago, Hlinka was among the first Czechs to leave for the NHL, arriving in Vancouver with Jiri Bubla (father of Boston blue liner Jiri Slegr). Soon after Hlinka's death, the Czechs named ex-Bruin Vladimir Ruzicka to take over the bench for the World Cup. Ruzicka captained the '98 Czech squad that won the Olympic gold in Nagano. "Ivan was simply irreplaceable for us," said Ruzicka. "We all idolized him." . . . Bruins in the World Cup include Joe Thornton (Canada), Slegr (Czech Republic), Sergei Samsonov and Sergei Gonchar (Russia), P.J. Axelsson (Sweden), and Hal Gill (US) . . . A late addition for the Russian squad: Andrei Kovalenko, whose NHL career came to an end (2000-01) in a Bruins sweater. Kovalenko, a.k.a. The Empty Tank, has played the last three seasons in Russia . . . Three other former Boston forwards -- Bill Guerin, Brian Rolston, and Bryan Smolinski -- will suit up for the Yanks.
The Oilers have yet to come to contract terms with slick center Petr Nedved, whom they obtained at the trade deadline when the Rangers purged their roster. The Oiler offer is $9 million over three years, which is about $1 million a year short, by Nedved's calculations . . . Anyone notice how the Coyotes have quietly added some veteran touch to their lineup? The likes of Sean O'Donnell, Brett Hull, Mike Ricci, Boyd Devereaux, and Jason Chimera should give the Desert Dogs a little more bite . . . Leafs netminder Eddie Belfour, whose bad back forced him to pull out of Team Canada well before the start of camp last week, keeps saying he is confident that he'll make it back via conditioning and exercise. However, there is a growing suspicion in Leaf Nation (picture a ramped-up Red Sox Nation) that Eddie the Eagle might have to consider surgery. That, in part, is why stories surfaced in Toronto last week that general manager John Ferguson Jr. had his eye on ex-Bruin Byron Dafoe, 33, as a possible backup backstop. Dafoe's career at times came to a standstill during the last two years in Atlanta, where he battled a series of nagging injuries . . . The right place for the FAO Schwarz bear to take up residence is on Causeway Street, where an oversized Black & Gold sweater would afford the poor fella some winter's warmth, don't you think? . . . Jagr was ambivalent about suiting up for the Czechs, in part because he wanted to spend more time with his new girlfriend, Czech TV anchor Lucie Borhyova . . . Scott Niedermayer, his pay bumped from $4 million to $7 million via arbitration, figures he'll continue to talk with the Devils about a long-term deal, but earlier this summer he reportedly turned down a five-year, $40 million pact at Exit 16W. If, as some GMs predict, there is a significant erosion in salaries, it could be next to impossible for Niedermayer to find someone to hand over $33 million for his next four years.
One that got away
Bryan Berard's new deal in Chicago, for one year, is worth $3 million. Delivered his walkaway papers here last summer when the Bruins refused to accept his arbitration award, Berard will have averaged $2.5 million for the two years since he was sent packing. Now the Bruins are faced with paying $5.5 million to Gonchar for just this year. Berard is not Gonchar, but he is close enough that a $5 million deal over two years, if negotiated here last summer, would have proven far more economical. And, yes, Tom Laidlaw, Berard's agent, would have jumped at a two-year, $5 million deal . . . Sami Kapanen, contrary to what he was telling teammates as the season ended in Philadelphia, is coming back to the Flyers. He was prepared to walk away from the $2.5 million he had in place for next season, but reconsidered a return to Finland when the Flyers stretched the deal out by two years. Great place, Finland, but no one over there is offering upward of $8 million over three years . . . What will NESN show if it loses all that Bruins programming, should a lockout last a half-season or more? Answer: Get ready to watch a whole lot of NHL Classic stuff, maybe even that triple-OT game ended by Petr Klima. You know the one, right? . . . Vincent Damphousse, who made $4 million last year with the Sharks, will make half that next year with the Avalanche. (If everyone took a 50 percent rollback, the current collective bargaining agreement would be just dandy.) Why the interest in a soon-to-be-37-year-old forward? Because there is the lingering suspicion that superstar Peter Forsberg has had enough of the NHL life and will play out his career back in Sweden. If so, Damphousse will be a No. 2 center. If not, he'll work on the wing. With 1,205 points, Damphousse ranks No. 38 on the all-time scoring list. Only once in his career has he reached the 40-goal plateau . . . Look for Doug Doull, one of the Bruins' most willing pugilists over the years, to sign any day now with someone other than the Bruins. According to Doull's agent, McBride, the deal is in place ("Somewhere out west," according to McBride), but has to be executed . . . Gill's new deal, which was agreed upon prior to his going to arbitration, brought him a $100,000 raise over his $2 million last season . . . Reports out of Manhattan last week had the Rangers closing in on ex-Carolina backstop Kevin Weekes to partner with Mike Dunham. Weekes made $2.35 million last season in Raleigh, and the Tropical Depressions weren't willing to up the ante, rendering the 29-year-old a free agent . . . There will be more CBA hemming and hawing this week when the sides bore each other to tears on Wednesday and Thursday in Ottawa, followed by another hem-and-haw session the following Tuesday and Wednesday in Montreal. They aren't even in the same rink, folks, never mind on the same sheet of ice.
Material from personal interviews, wire services, other beat writers, and league and team sources was used in this report.
© Copyright 2004 Globe Newspaper Company.