Bourdon puts worries behind him

RANDY SPORTAK -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:57 AM ET

Luc Bourdon has come to realize who his biggest enemy has been in the past.

Himself.

As funny as it seems, the Vancouver Canucks first-round draft choice from 2005 was notorious for self-destructing.

Often a mistake would send the talented defenceman into a tailspin in that very game, one of the biggest things he's been working on since jumping to the pro ranks.

"A couple of years ago, when I made a mistake, I was pretty much done for the whole game," he admitted prior to facing the Calgary Flames last night. "Now, you know it's what happens. It happens to the best and I know it's gonna happen to me.

"That's something I've had to work on."

It's certainly not a character flaw. Who can criticize a player for caring too much about how he plays?

Certainly, the Canucks don't see Bourdon's emotion about the game as an issue, just something that needs to be controlled.

"It's just inexperience. That's all it is," said assistant coach Rick Bowness, who also handles the Canucks defence corps. "It's his first year pro, he's a 20-year-old kid, and these are things you address with any 20-year-old kid. It's finding out what they can or can't get away with, understanding positional play, understanding consistency, understanding better work habits.

"All those things are typical of dealing with a 20-year-old kid.

"You can't worry about mistakes. And just as important, if you make a mistake, don't let it affect your next shift on the ice: Think about it, address it, move on, get ready for the next shift," he continued.

"I know in the past his mistakes have stayed with him and it's affected him the next four or five times he goes on the ice, which compounds the situation and makes it harder for people to play with him."

Certainly, Bourdon has shown early his immense potential. Having started the season with the AHL's Manitoba Moose, the 6-ft.-3, 211-lb. defenceman chosen 10th overall in the 2005 draft collected three goals and five assists in 10 minor league games before being summoned because of the rash of injuries to the Canucks blueline corps.

Last year, he played in nine NHL contests before returning to the junior ranks, first with Moncton of the QMJHL and then with a Cape Breton team that made a push for the league title and Memorial Cup berth.

He also was part of Canada's gold-medal winning World Junior squad.

This season, has been about big growth.

With the Moose, he was told from the start he'd be an integral piece, seeing action in all situations and racking up loads of ice time.

"It seems crazy, but the time I was there I really improved my game," he said proudly.

"You want to play at the NHL level, but you have to realize you have stuff to work on. I know a few guys from my draft were playing regularly last year, but some players get to the level a little faster and some take a little longer.

"But I feel I'm at the average standard of learning. There are some good players from my draft in the AHL, too, and it's a process."

But a process that had to be sped up with a trio of Canucks defencemen -- Kevin Bieksa, Sami Salo and Lukas Krajicek -- on the shelf for an extended period.

Seeing as they'll all be out for at least a few more weeks, it's a golden opportunity for Bourdon to prove he's ready for the bigs. Or, at least show what he's learned after a month in the minors.

"I'm realistic too. I know as these guys are back, I'm probably gonna be gone, but that's the way it goes," he said.

"I don't think I have any pressure. Come to the rink, work hard, try to perform. It's a learning process for me"


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