When his career as a professional hockey player ended in 2014, Marc-André Bourdon was “no longer convinced” that he wanted to stay in the hockey world. Eight years later, he’s not only still in the game, but he’s back in the National League. As a recruiter this time. On the Tampa Bay Lightning.
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“When I was playing in the National League, I had concussions and I had a hard time understanding why things happened like this,” Bourdon says by phone.
Since retiring, the Saint-Hyacinthe native has gone back to school and earned a bachelor’s degree. She met the one who is now his wife. He was a head recruiter, assistant coach and general manager for the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies. And here he is today, an amateur recruiter in Quebec and the Maritimes for Lightning.
“I think it was God’s plan for me, my wife and everyone,” he suggests. […] You have to trust more than just your perception. Of course, if you had told me seven years ago that I would go to the National League seven years later, I would have laughed. There was a time when I wasn’t even convinced I wanted to pursue hockey. »
This new opportunity in the big leagues, Marc-André Bourdon did not expect it at all. Happy as the general manager of the Huskies, the team he played for for three years in the youth ranks and has always considered his family, he had no intention of changing jobs any time soon.
In early August, two weeks before the start of training camps in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, Bourdon was preparing for a fishing trip to Labrador with Huskies president Jacques Blais. Just before his departure, Mr. Blais received a call from Julien BriseBois, general manager of the Lightning, asking for permission to speak with Bourdon.
The former Philadelphia Flyers went through the interview process. The father of a toddler just 1 month old at the time, he spoke about his family situation at BriseBois and Al Murray, director of amateur recruiting within the Florida lineup.
“They were very understanding,” he said. For me, that was one of the selling points. »
I loved huskies. They have always been a big part of my life. I was happy at Rouyn-Noranda, but of course the chance to work with an organization like Lightning doesn’t happen every day.
Like at home
Marc-André Bourdon has been in his new position for almost two months now. His schedule is similar to what he had as general manager; he walks from arena to arena to watch hockey games, Tuesday through Sunday.
It’s more the way he sees the game that’s different. However, he finds himself scrutinizing players he knows well.
When I was head of recruiting [avec les Huskies]I drafted these guys and they are eligible for the NHL draft this year. […] It’s having an open mind, being able to look critically at the players because they change.
On the Lightning, Bourdon is surrounded by many Quebecers, including two he has faced on the ice in the past: Mathieu Darche and Jean-Philippe Côté.
“Both as a player and as a staff member, when you have two or three Quebecers in a National League organization, it’s a good ratio. So there sure are a lot of them in the Lightning! The guys there are competent. Yes, they are Quebecers, but they are competent guys who deserve to be there. »
What excites him most is working for an organization that “has been successful and is doing things the right way.”
“As a person and as an employee, I know that I will be treated with respect. that was a great point [dans ma décision]. We won’t hide it, the Lightning have been competitive in the last couple of years, they’ve won the Stanley Cups. It’s hard to win. Will we win it again? I don’t know, but the team is built to have a chance in the next few years. »
And then, he recognizes himself in the values that his new team transmits…
“Respect, teamwork, work ethic, has always prevailed among the Huskies. I feel at home with Lightning because that’s how it is too. »
Marc-André Bourdon’s number 3 jersey will be retired by the Rouyn-Noranda Huskies during the season. “There aren’t many retired jerseys for the Huskies, but I can think of André Tourigny, who I’m close to. He has done a lot for me in my career. It will be an honor to have my shirt removed. It is really special. I feel very honored and humbled in this. »
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