Luc a stand-up guy

STEVE MACFARLANE -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 8:46 AM ET

The door is wide open for one of the Vancouver Canucks prospects to step into a prominent role on the blueline.

Luc Bourdon hopes he can walk through it.

And that broken leg he suffered last year won't slow him down.

"Right now I don't feel it anymore, the pain, so I don't have to worry about it," said Bourdon, who was injured after the world junior tournament.

"I started feeling pretty well about a month ago, after the Canada junior camp here in Calgary."

Health issues are nothing new to Bourdon, who as a nine-year-old was forced to use a wheelchair when a case of juvenile arthritis kept him off the ice for an entire year.

That just made him more appreciative of the game, he says.

"When I came back a year later, my desire to play was way higher than it was," said Bourdon.

"I'd get up at six in the morning and the game wasn't until maybe noon, so I was pretty excited about it.

"I think there are worse things in life, so I'm pretty lucky."

Bourdon is reluctant to talk about his childhood ailment, preferring to discuss the present over the past.

But he recently talked to a Vancouver newspaper about the impact the illness had on his body.

"It was pretty hard," he said.

"It was like I lost all my flexibility. I wasn't able to walk or really do anything. It was in the middle of a season and I could only go to the rink to watch my team.

"My mom supported me really well."

The Shippagan, N.B., product was a standout in his first NHL camp last fall after being drafted by the Canucks in the first round in 2005.

But there was no room on the roster -- especially for an 18-year-old kid -- with Vancouver boasting one of the best defensive groups in the league.

It's a different scenario this time around with the Canucks carrying over just two of their top seven rearguards, losing a handful in trades and free agency during the past year.

Vancouver added Willie Mitchell, Lukas Krajicek and Rory Fitzpatrick to the mix but only Mitchell qualifies as a no-brainer to make an impact.

"Everyone knows there are a lot of spots open on the team," said Bourdon.

"Last year I had to come here and be spectacular if I wanted to make the team. This year it's a little bit different. There are a few spots available on defence so I'm sure if I play good hockey, I might have a chance to stay."

The 6-ft. 2-in., 200-pounder is a smooth skater, offensively creative and unafraid physically. Even with the depth on last year's team, the decision to send him back to junior was difficult.

New bench boss Alain Vigneault may have an equally tough time deciding whether to return Bourdon to Moncton, which traded for the blueliner late last season en route to the Memorial Cup final.

"Hopefully, with the start of these eight games in 11 nights, he's gonna show that he's NHL calibre," said Vigneault. "I think Luc has got a lot of energy to his game. He's got some feistiness. Really good skater. All he needs to do is get his confidence.

"He's got all the skill in the world."


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