Most of the time, I think of the KHL as a place for talented Russians to make more money and for aging, marginal players from the general area to seek refuge from hard-driving NHL coaches. Sure, that’s the general pattern, but let’s not forget that going overseas is a great option for North American lost causes, too (Robert Esche, John Grahame and Alexandre Daigle are forgiven for closing their browser windows right now).
Perhaps it only makes sense, then, that Chris Bourque reportedly rejected a qualifying offer from the Washington Capitals/Hershey Bears to escape to the KHL. (source: Tarik El-Bashir of the Washington Post) When you consider Bourque’s last name – and all the expectations that naturally come with it – it’s a fairly understandable choice.
After all, it’s not easy trying to play a sport when your father was a superstar. Not everyone can score more than 700 goals and have a name (Brett) that rhymes nicely with your old man’s nickname (Bobby Hull = “The Golden Jet”; Brett Hull = “The Golden Brett.” I mean, that’s just too perfect.). You want to live in a big shadow? Try being one of Michael Jordan’s sons struggling to master the art of a jump shot.
Most people would empathize with Bourque, a marginal forward who happens to share all-time great defenseman Raymond Bourque’s DNA. He was the butt of many jokes in Pittsburgh and never really stuck with the Washington Capitals – the team that drafted him – either. Overall, he played 33 NHL games between the Penguins and Capitals while scoring exactly one goal and impressing next to no one.
So, good luck to Chris Bourque as he tries to excel in the peace and relative anonymity of the KHL. I won’t blame him if he never plays hockey in North American again.