Saturday, March 27, 2010

Ray Bourque Framed Autographed Lithograph

The 1980s and 1990s saw a lot of defensemen have a tremendous impact on the game, from Paul Coffey's ''fourth forward'' to Al MacInnis' and Al Iafrate's powerful slap shots, but the one guy who re-wrote the record books also happened to be a stable defenseman in his own end - Raymond Bourque.

Born in the Saint-Laurent district of Montréal in 1960, Bourque was drafted 8th overall by the Boston Bruins in the 1979 NHL draft, behind Rob Ramage, Perry Turnnbull, Mike Foligno, Mike Gartner, Rick Vaive, Craig Hartsburgh and Keith Brown. The Bruins even gave him the #7 sweater that few people had worn since the retirement of legend Phil Esposito. In 1985, they named him co-captain with Rick Middleton, a title he would hold alone at Middleton's retirement in 1988. On December 3rd, 1987, the Bruins retired Esposito's jersey, and Bourque relinquished the #7 sweater for the superstar-friendly #77, the number he'd wear for the rest of his career.

As a centerpiece of both the Bruins' offense and defense, he helped the team's consecutive playoff runs reach 29, not only an NHL record, but a North American pro sport record. Twice he has led them to the Stanley Cup final, both times losing to the Edmonton Oilers.

Always faithful to the Bruins, he never held out for better wages despite being on one of the teams with the lowest payrolls. Even in the face of free agency, he re-signed with the Bruins. By the end of the 90s, as the Bruins were no longer contenders, they offered him to be traded to a contender at least 4 times, until he finally accepted, in 2000. While he had hoped to join the Philadelphia Flyers, he wasn't too disappointed to go to the Colorado Avalanche, who had Joe Sakic, Patrick Roy, Peter Forsberg and Adam Foote in their ranks. When they didn't win in his first post-season there, losing in the Conference Finals, they added Rob Blake and won it the next year. Bourque could now retire a champion. He also retired ahead of Paul Coffey in every statistic to lead all defensemen in career goals, assists, and points, despite their retiring in the same year.

Like the Serge Savard one I wrote about in December, this is an over-sized lithograph of a Canada Post stamp depicting Hall Of Famer Bourque, winner of five Norris trophies and all of the ''most accurate shot'' contests he ever took part in.

It is printed on canvas and hand-signed by Bourque himself (certificate of authenticity as well as an original stamp are in an envelope at the back of the frame), limited-edition and numbered 801/1077, and fit into a 16X16 frame; its suggested retail price was $89.95.

Sure, the Bruins were the enemy and the Avalanche are nothing but my beloved Québec Nordiques moved to Denver, but Bourque has meant so much to Boston that I am still proud to hang this in my living room; he was a worthy, formidable opponent, and he even brought the Cup back to Boston upon winning it, and over 20,000 people came to see it, despite his having won it with another team; that's respect.

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