A defenseman in the National Hockey League (NHL) for 22 years, Ray Bourque had a natural knack for scoring, and even today holds records for most career goals, assists, and points record for a defenseman in the history of the NHL. He was a patient man too, waiting from 1979, his draft year, to 2001 to win his sole Stanley with the Colorado Avalanche.
Born Raymond Jean Bourque in 1960 in Saint-Laurent, Quebec, Bourque endured a difficult young life. Despite the loss of his mom at 12, he went on to pursue his passion, hockey, and was drafted by the Trois-Rivières Draveurs of the QMJHL as a third-round pick.
He also played for the Verdun Juniors and Sorel Éperviers, where he impressed, winning the standout defenseman award in his final two junior years and making the QMJHL First All-Star Team twice. In 1979, he was drafted by the Boston Bruins in the NHL Entry Draft with the eighth overall pick. Being a Quebec native and a childhood fan of the Montreal Canadiens, he was now set to lace up for his favorite team’s arch rival, the Bruins.
Bourque got his career up and running fast upon joining the Bruins in 1979. He had an incredible first season that saw him score in his NHL debut game, set the rookie defenseman all-time scoring record (65 points), win the Calder Memorial Trophy for rookie of the year, and earn a selection to the all-star team.
Bourque wore the No.7 (1979-87), and No. 77 (1987-2000) jersey in his time with the Bruins, becoming one of the franchise’s greatest players. In his 21 years in Boston, he was a 17 time All-Star, a multiple winner of the Norris Trophy, and a perennial NHL shot accuracy champion. He was also a long serving captain of the Bruins (1985-2000) and was instrumental in the Bruins twenty-nine consecutive playoff appearances.
Despite many successful years with the Bruins, a championship trophy was still missing in his trophy cabinet. He had lost in his two attempts at glory, losing to the Edmonton Oilers in the 1988 and 1990 finals.
In 2000, desperate to win a Cup, he asked for a trade to the Colorado Avalanche. In his half-season with the Avalanches, they captured the central division, but fell short in the 2000 conference finals. With Bourque as alternate captain for the 2000-2001 season, the Avalanche made another stab at the championship. They advanced all the way to the finals where they beat out the New Jersey Devils in 7 games. With this, Bourque won his first and only Stanley Cup, having waited for it for 22 years.
He hung up his skates seventeen days later, having scored 451 goals and posted 1308 assists for 1,579 points in 1,826 games he played.
Major Achievements, Awards, and Records
Bourque’s exceptional talents made him one the greatest NHL defensemen to have ever played the game. His professional career is dotted with accolades and record-breaking milestones that still stand today.
He was a Stanley cup winner in his 22nd year (2001). He also won the Calder Memorial Rookie Trophy (1980), the King Clancy Memorial Trophy (1992), and the Norris Trophy 5 times (1981, 83, 86, 89, 95 and 99)
Bourque also holds records for most NHL First Team selections (13), most regular season career goals by a defenseman (410), most points by a defenseman (1579), highest NHL career plus/minus (+528), most shots for a defensemen in an NHL career (6,206), and most shots in a single NHL game (19). Ray was also a man of many firsts. He played in all the All-Star Games for all seasons in his career (19), and was an All-star in both his rookie and final seasons in the NHL.
Following in the footsteps of other defensive legends, Ray Bourque forged his career as a defensive juggernaut with impressive offensive instincts. Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2004, Bourque will forever remain an NHL legend and one who future stars of the game will look up to.
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