The mood around the Bruins was disappointed and more than a little hopeful when it came to the subject of waiving Chris Bourque on Thursday afternoon. The move means that Bourque is ticketed to the Providence Bruins if another NHL team doesn’t claim him by noon on Friday, and Claude Julien hopes that he can rediscover his confidence at the AHL level.
Bourque will get top six minutes for the P-Bruins along with PP and PK time, and will certainly get every chance to reclaim his game at an American League level where he’s always succeeded.
“This is not a coach’s decision. This is an organizational decision,” said Claude Julien. “It wasn’t an easy one because we know the type of person Chris is, and he’s a great player.
“Just because right now we’re waiving him, we’re hoping not to lose him. His time here [in Boston] isn’t over. He took a little bit of time to find his game and it was coming around a bit. He also knows that his last game wasn’t his best one. When you look at what he did in Providence you can’t count him off your lineup here. Right now it could just be a bump along the way. Certainly if we need a guy called up I’d have no issues about seeing him back up here.”
Bourque had only goal in 18 games for the Bruins skating with their third line and was a minus-6 on the season skating besides other forwards in Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley that are struggling mightily. But it was also the most successful NHL stint for the son of Bruins Hall of Famer Ray Bourque, and he still leads the B’s with three power play assists this season.
His Bruins teammates felt some of the responsibility for the move that sent him back to the minors given the way the third line has struggled as a whole.
“Obviously Bourque is a great player. Rich and I want to succeed,” said Chris Kelly, who has one goal in 21 games and is a minus-7 this season. “We wanted to succeed with Bourque and we want to succeed with every player on our line. For some reason the bounces weren’t going in, and when it rains it pours.
“Things would go to the other way and you look at the minus column. I don’t think we’ve been that bad. But when you look at scoring goals that offset the minuses, it shows [that our line is] pretty lopsided to the rest of the team.”
Bourque led the AHL in scoring with 93 points, and had 28 points (8 goals, 20 assists) in 32 games for the P-Bruins during the lockout. If he sticks with the Bruins they’ll hope he finds that player again in Providence and stands ready if gets another call to Boston again this season, or next year when his contract becomes a one-way deal that could net him another shot with the Bruins.