Tribute motivates 'Nucks

STEVE MACFARLANE

, Last Updated: 8:42 AM ET

It was a storybook start to the Vancouver Canucks season.

Honouring the life of a teammate who was taken too soon before, during and after a 6-0 victory over the Calgary Flames at GM Place Thursday night, the Canucks probably feel a little like heroes of some sort.

Question is, can they keep it up, or was the first game just a fairy tale?

"We've got good confidence going our way in this locker-room. Guys think they can do really well and can have success," said Canucks winger Alex Burrows after his two-goal performance on a night they celebrated Luc Bourdon -- a d-man who was killed last May in a motorcycle accident.

Bourdon was Burrows' closest friend in the Canucks locker-room. But he's not the only one who seems to be using the tragedy as motivation.

Although the Canucks started a little sluggish after a lengthy video tribute that included a live acoustic rendition of Big League by Tom Cochrane and a member of his band, Red Rider, they got their legs under them.

Their legs may have been supported in spirit by the memory of Bourdon.

And while it doesn't seem like something that can carry a team through a whole season, it sure sounds like they've become as closely-knit a group as exists in the NHL right now.

"It was a special night for everyone in this locker-room. Luc was one of my best friends last year on the team, but a lot of teammates were really tight with him, too, so I think everyone showed up and played a good game," Burrows said.

"I think the guys really bonded together."

Bonds go a long way in hockey. Much farther than they do trading on the stock market these days.

A team made up of individuals who actually believe they're playing for each other, not just the fans or the coaches or the ownership, is much more dangerous than one loaded with talent and no heart.

As unnecessary as his fight was with Dion Phaneuf after the Flames defenceman laid a perfectly clean hit on Henrik Sedin up the middle, Canucks winger Steve Bernier showed he's willing to do his part.

"In my mind, that was a bad hit in the middle, when somebody was looking down. Our best players. As a teammate, you don't have any choice," said Bernier. "Hopefully, it won't happen every game, but I know if I was going to get hit in the middle, one of my teammates would defend me."

Jannik Hansen, a 6-foot-1 stringbean, stuck up for Roberto Luongo when Daymond Langkow exchanged shots with the goaltender.

Their bonding might have been fast-tracked by the accident. To get over their grief, they may have found a winning formula.

"First of all, we watched the video. I think that was a really good first step for us. We watched it as a team," Burrows said of an advance screening. "There's that special feeling that went through the locker-room, losing a teammate and a great friend of ours."

They won't bring up Bourdon's name every night. There will be no more video tributes or ceremonies. But the 21-year-old will be in their minds often, and they can go to that well of inspiration any time they feel the need.

However their season finishes, it started perfectly.


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