- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 6, 2005

When Ray Bourque was starting to approach legendary status while playing for the Boston Bruins, the shadow constantly following him around Boston Garden was his oldest son, Chris.

That Chris would follow his Hall of Fame father into pro hockey never was in doubt. The only thing up for discussion was the path he would take. His parents wanted him to go to college, but it wasn’t much of a secret in Boston hockey circles that Chris wanted to compete in the Canadian major junior program that produced his father and the bulk of NHL players.

Whereas his parents won out initially, it now appears Chris will go his own way. Over the weekend, Bourque informed Jack Parker, his coach at Boston University, he was withdrawing to play junior hockey. Parker was not surprised; to say Bourque’s grades as a freshman were disappointing would be an understatement.

On the ice, however, the 19-year-old Washington Capitals prospect had lived up to expectations. Though small in stature at 5-foot-7, 175 pounds, on the ice he has the temperament of an enraged hornet.

In fact, his playing style is comparable to former Caps star Dino Ciccarelli, who was 5-9, 185 pounds but played much bigger and scored 608 career goals. Ciccarelli always was around the puck and usually could be found within a dozen feet of the net.

Even though Bourque saw limited time as a freshman, he had 10 goals and 23 points in 35 games for the young Terriers. He won the tradition-laden Beanpot for BU with an overtime goal and was named the MVP. Plus, he was a unanimous choice for the Hockey East all-rookie team.

The Caps drafted him 33rd overall in June’s entry draft even though the highest he was rated by any scouting service was 74th. To prepare for life in the NHL, Bourque will play next season for Moncton, New Brunswick, the team that claimed his rights with the 204th pick of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League draft in 2003. His father first became a star in the QMJHL 25 years ago.

“I didn’t think [college hockey] was going to be as hard or as serious as it was,” Bourque told the Boston Globe after withdrawing from BU. “College was a good time, but it wasn’t for me. I wasn’t a big fan of going to school and going to class. It’s not the place for me.”

Because of the lockout, the NHL has ordered its teams to have no contact with players, signed or not. As a result, the Caps have not talked to Bourque since he made his decision. But Washington’s plan for Bourque after last summer’s rookie camp was for him to attend college for at least two years to gain some size, maturity and experience before it took another look.

Bourque, who will be 20 in January, can play in the QMJHL next season and possibly one beyond that as an overage player. While at Moncton, he will be billeted with a family near the team’s rink where he will receive room and board; he will receive about $75 (Canadian) weekly for incidentals.

As for a pro contract, that will have to wait until a new collective bargaining agreement is negotiated between the owners and locked out players. That CBA will include a new and far more restrictive rookie salary structure.

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