Even though the Colorado Avalanche jersey Bourque is pictured in was not the one he wore for most of his storied career, I still chose to use that picture. For me, and many other NHL fans, the image of Bourque finally getting to lift the Stanley Cup is one that will be remembered forever.
Bourque entered the NHL in the 1979-80 season with the Boston Bruins and his offensive ability was apparent immediately, scoring 17 goals and 65 points en route to winning the Calder Trophy. He had his first 20 goal campaign the season after, and topped the point per game plateau in the 1981-82 season. He tallied 31 goals and 96 points in the 1983-84 season, a definite sign that great things were on the horizon.
After the retirement of captain Terry O'Reilly in 1985, Bourque and Rick Middleton were named co-captains of the Bruins. He recorded his second 90 point season during 1986-87 and won his first Norris Trophy. In December of the following season, the Bruins decided to retire Phil Esposito's number seven, the number that Bourque wore. Not obligated to give it up, Bourque skated over to Esposito and removed his jersey to reveal a number 77 jersey underneath, the number Bourque would wear for the remainder of his career.
He went on to win his second Norris Trophy that season as the Bruins were defeated in the Stanley Cup Finals by the Edmonton Oilers, and inherited the full captaincy of the Bruins when Rick Middleton retired in 1988. He flourished in the role and led the Bruins back to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1990, but they were again put down by the Edmonton Oilers. Bourque won his third Norris Trophy that season and finished second in Hart Trophy voting to Mark Messier by two votes, the closest margin to date.
He won his fourth Norris in 1991 as Boston advanced to the Conference Finals, but were defeated by the Pittsburgh Penguins. Bourque continued to put up incredible scoring numbers, winning his fifth Norris Trophy in 1994 after another 90 point season, but the Bruins would always fail in the playoffs.
The 1999-00 season was looking to be a terrible one for the Bruins, and the 39 year old Bourque respectfully requested a trade so he could win the Stanley Cup. Bourque requested to be sent to the Philadelphia Flyers, but GM Harry Sinden instead traded him to the Colorado Avalanche, believing them to have a better chance at a championship. He immediately established himself as a leader in Colorado, but the Avs did not win the Cup that season.
He scored 59 points the following year, amazing numbers for the now 40 year old. He and the Avs made their way to the Finals, where they defeated the New Jersey Devils in seven games. Bucking tradition, captain Joe Sakic immediately passed the Cup to Bourque instead of lifting it himself first. Bourque retired in the off season, going out at the very top, as well as being the career leader among defensemen in points, goals, and assists.