Bourque expected to call it a career

Posted: Tuesday, June 26, 2001

DENVER -- Raymond Bourque, his quest for the Stanley Cup realized, will retire at a news conference scheduled for Tuesday.

A source close to the Colorado Avalanche told The Associated Press on Monday that Bourque will announce his retirement after 22 NHL seasons.

The Avalanche scheduled a news conference for Tuesday, saying only that the star defenseman will make an announcement about his hockey career. While the team would not reveal what Bourque, 40, planned to announce, the Denver Post said Bourque will retire, primarily for family reasons.

The highest-scoring defenseman in NHL history said previously he wants to spend more time with his family after more than two decades in the NHL. Bourque had a 22-year wait before winning the championship, the longest in NHL history.

Bourque's Boston-based agent, Steve Freyer, said Bourque had made a decision about his future, but Freyer wouldn't reveal what it was.

Bourque played for 21 seasons in Boston, but he requested a trade to a contender in March 2000 in hopes of winning an NHL title. He finally got it when the Avalanche beat the New Jersey Devils for the Stanley Cup earlier this month.

Tears streaming down his face, he hoisted the Stanley Cup on the ice at Pepsi Center, the same facility where he will make his retirement announcement on Tuesday at noon MDT.

During a parade for the Avalanche through the streets of downtown Denver two days after capturing the cup June 9, Bourque said, ''Do I really want to come back? I'm 40 years old. I could play, no doubt about that. I played Game 7 two days ago, and I played pretty well.

''It's not a matter of whether you can or can't play. You've got to look at it mentally, physically. It's not the easiest thing to play when you're 40 years old. It takes a lot of energy.

''It has been great. I've enjoyed it. I've got to see if the fire, the passion and everything you need to be successful playing this game is going to be there.''

Although he parried questions about his future, saying he would announce his decision in a few weeks, he has talked recently about family concerns.

Bourque's wife, Christiane, and their children, aged 17, 15 and 10, stayed in Boston after he was traded.

His eldest son, Christopher, a promising 15-year-old hockey player, will start school at Cushing Academy in Ashburnham, Mass., in the fall, and Bourque wants to be closer to him when he starts school.

If Bourque retires, the Avs would save $5.5 million -- the difference between his 2001-02 salary of $6.5 million and a $1 million buyout. That would help the Avalanche pursue their marquee free agents: Joe Sakic, Rob Blake and Patrick Roy.

Bourque made 19 All-Star appearances, was voted best rookie in 1980 and won the Norris Trophy for the league's outstanding defenseman five times. He is the highest-scoring defenseman in NHL history and averaged nearly 30 minutes a game in the playoffs.



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