René Gary Wayne Bourque
Born December 10, 1981 (age 29) in Lac La Biche, Alberta, Canada
Left winger for the Calgary Flames
I didn’t hear a lot from Rene in last night’s game, but we’ll talk about him just the same. Rene grew up in Edmonton with his fraternal twin sister Chantal till the family moved back to Lac La Biche. His dad was busy working in the oil fields and his mom was working on a degree in social work, but they encouraged his game. He played for Athol Murray College of Notre Dame in Saskatchewan and was an honor student there, but he passed up the chance to play in the WHL because he felt his education was more important (good boy!). After he was given a scholarship to the University of Wisconsin, he played there for all four years and was named one of three captains when he was a senior. Unfortunately, going to college instead of the juniors meant he wasn’t drafted at all, so after he graduated in 2004 with a degree in Consumer Behavior and Business, he signed as a free agent with the Chicago Blackhawks.
His first year with the Blackhawks fell during the Year That Never Was, so he was sent to their AHL team, the Norfolk Admirals. He did so well that he was named AHL rookie of the year and led the team with 60 points. When he joined the Blackhawks in the 2005-06 season, he got his first NHL goal in his first game! He was signed to a two-year extension after a 34-point season, but the next two seasons were riddled with injuries – on November 12, 2006, he suffered a severe laceration during a game against the Columbus Blue Jackets when a skate cut his neck; six weeks later, after he’d returned to the ice, he cracked a bone in his ankle and didn’t return till February 21, 2007 (I point that out because that’s my birthday). The next year was no better: it started out with a groin pull and a broken thumb, but he stayed healthy when he came back a month later.
It was probably no surprise that Rene was traded to Calgary in 2008, but he flourished there, getting his first hat trick in his first year there. And even though he re-injured his ankle and eventually had surgery to fix it, he came back strong. He was even in this year’s Heritage Classic and became the 5th player in NHL outdoor history to score two goals in a game! No wonder he’s been considered one of the Flames’ top scorers along with fellow MotD Jarome Iginla.
Rene is of Métis heritage and has worked with several charities that help native kids as well as kids in rural Alberta afford the cost of playing hockey. Last season he started “Bourque’s Buddies” which gives Flames tickets to kids from the Tsuu T’ina Nation who have worked hard in school. A big guy on and off the ice? We like that very much!