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Off ice, his shifts are semi-regular

TORONTO -- Precious few professional athletes leave their sport on their terms. Even fewer depart having won a championship in their final game. Injuries, diminished skills, and burnout can cut short careers.

But Ray Bourque, who will be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame tonight, went out very much on top. He captured the Stanley Cup with the Colorado Avalanche in June of 2001, then hung up his skates shortly thereafter.

Unlike some who struggle once they're out of the game, Bourque is thriving in retirement.

"I'm very happy," said Bourque, who turns 44 next month. "The adjustment went very well. I've kept myself busy."

He is involved in a multitude of interests, all of which are compatible with a flexible lifestyle.

"I've got a good relationship with Banknorth and I've been a spokesman going on two years," he said. "I've done some stuff with the Premium Club that's gotten me back into the FleetCenter and some games. My wife and I are in the process of building a spa [Maison Esthetique Christiane Bourque in Danvers] that will be ready sometime around the holidays. I've gotten involved with a restaurant in the North End called Via Valverde. It's a really nice place.

"I've got a lot of other different things as well. I have a lot of little things that keep me semi-busy but not too busy."

His daughter, 20-year-old Melissa, is a junior at the University of New Hampshire, where she plays lacrosse. Christopher, 18, is a freshman at Boston University and plays hockey. Ryan is 13 and also plays hockey.

"I help coach his team, and [former Bruins coach and teammate] Steve Kasper's son plays on that team," said Bourque. "And Chris and I like to travel once in a while. We like to go to Jupiter, Fla. We're doing a lot of fun stuff. Other than maybe driving my wife crazy at times, for me it's been great."

Bourque has been deeply involved in the lives of his children. When he finished his career, they were all old enough to appreciate what he had accomplished.

"When I retired, Melissa was 17, Chris was 15, and Ryan was 10," he said. "They saw a lot of stuff and they were old enough for it to stay with them, too, so it was neat to be able to play so long and have your family and your kids experience a lot of fun things and special things."

He has also taken an interest in his wife's longtime dream of opening a spa -- although she hasn't made him be a guinea pig for seaweed wraps or mud masks.

"She hasn't trapped me yet," said Bourque with a laugh. "She went back to school and got certified and she's been working hard. She's wanted to do this for a long time and the time is right and I'm just happy that she's getting started. I think she'll do very well. It's going to be a special place."

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