To proclaim Bourque a leader by example would be as great an understatement as, say, calling the 2004 Red Sox’ championship a cathartic moment for New England sports fans.
In his 15 years as the Bruins’ captain, three shared with Rick Middleton and 12 solo, Bourque demonstrated a concoction of patience, toughness and year-round dedication to conditioning that commanded emulation. And all along the way, one understudy after another attributed his own development as a player to feeding off of Bourque’s passion.
Bourque’s numbers are too jutting and too telling to leave out of the debate. One of the reasons why he played a franchise-record 1,518 career games and topped the Bruins’ all-time charts with 1,111 assists and 1,506 points was his unwavering commitment to the Spoked B.
Sure, he ultimately left for Colorado to pursue his overdue Stanley Cup. But that was only when it was clear that his window was millimeters away from shutting and the oft-maligned Jeremy Jacobs and penny-pinching Harry Sinden were not going to build him a contender in Boston.
Before that, Bourque had multiple opportunities to join a more promising contender and/or demand a raise in salary. Yet he consistently put the interests of his first franchise ahead of everything else for two decades.