Bourdon given tearful farewell
Thousands jam arena to pay last respects to young defenceman
SHIPPAGAN, N.B. — Luc Bourdon’s loving voice and his imperfect guitar echoed through his hometown hockey rink yesterday as family, friends and teammates gathered to bury the young Vancouver Canucks defenceman.
The song was a recording Bourdon made for his high school sweetheart, Charlene Ward, who stayed back at home in this small fishing village on the northeastern shore of New Brunswick. The pair had planned to marry.
Bourdon died Thursday in a motorcycle accident that a horrified and helpless Ward watched unfold. His coffin was draped with mementos of the two great passions of his young life — the last Canucks jersey he was to wear and a stuffed toy monkey given to him by Ward.
Ward placed the toy in a moment of tenderness that, were there a dry eye left in the rink, was watering up soon after.
It was the monkey — holding a heart — which she gave Bourdon, to keep him warm and her memory close when he was so far away living his NHL dream.
The monkey was the inspiration for Bourdon’s song.
“Baby, when I go to sleep at night, I hold that little monkey, I hold him tight,” Bourdon crooned. “There’s only one thing that I could never do. It’s to live my life without you.”
Ward read a poem Bourdon had written her.
“Each time I have to say goodbye and see you go, I want to close my eyes and say it ain’t so,” Ward read while sobbing. “But I know we’re going to see each other again because it’s only the beginning of a journey that will never end.”
In front of her, Bourdon’s mom, Suzanne Boucher, cupped her head with her hands in deep sorrow. Around her, tears streamed from many of the more than 2,000 people who came to this Shippagan arenaturned-chapel.
They were all surrounded by memories of Bourdon. There were photos, his guitar, and the jersey which Bourdon gave to a fan after the Canucks last game, the jersey-off-your-back night. The fan was determined to get it to Bourdon’s family and gave it to Canucks brass who brought it with them to Shippagan.
People in the hockey community travelled from across the country to be at the funeral, including Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault, general manager Mike Gillis, Ryan Kesler, Alex Burrows, Taylor Pyatt, Jeff Cowan, Kevin Bieksa and Curtis Sanford.
Markus Naslund sent a note which was read by Steve Tambellini, the Canucks assistant general manager. Tambellini gave a eulogy. “Speaking to the people on the plane, people in hotels, people in restaurants, we found out they all knew Luc,” Tambellini said.
“Things I remember about Luc — draft day and how excited our scouts were as we had a chance to take Luc Bourdon. “Watching Luc walk up to the stage and the look he had when he put on that jersey.
“He was so hungry not to be a good player but a great player . . . And the first time he stepped on the ice at GM Place, in Vancouver, people chanted his name when he touched the puck. We’d never had that. How can you not love a player who plays with the passion he did?”