Mr. Bourque is going to Washington — intent on winning a job he's wanted since he was old enough to skate.
With four games of NHL experience already on his hockey resume, Chris Bourque is looking to considerably add to that total during the upcoming season. The 22-year-old Boxford resident is heading to the nation's capital in the next week or so in anticipation of the Washington Capitals training camp, which begins Sept. 20.
The speedy left winger is heading there with one goal in mind: Win a permanent job with the Capitals.
"I feel like I can compete in the NHL. It's up to me whether or not I can make that happen (in camp)," said Bourque, who has spent the last three seasons playing in Washington's American Hockey League affiliate in Hershey, Pa., where he had 28 goals and 63 points for the Bears last year.
"I don't want to go back to the AHL. No knock on Hershey, but that's not where I want to be. My main focus is on making the big team."
If offseason training and preparation were the lone determining factors in making the NHL, Bourque would be a shoo-in.
Taking what Washington head coach Bruce Boudreau said to him in his exit interview earlier this spring — get stronger and a little bit faster if you want to make it at the next level — to heart, Bourque began a new training program this summer. The core of it was working on his leg strength four days a week, all designed to get them stronger and his feet quicker.
He's also lost a little bit of weight (he played at around 180 pounds last winter), and is feeling stronger on the ice in general.
"There's been a lot of grinding and blood, sweat and tears, but I feel really good now," said the former Cushing Academy and Boston University star. "My legs have never been like this. I feel fresh out on the ice, and my wind is great. I feel really good about where I'm at."