Thursday, October 4, 2001
Bourque: 'I owe Harry a lot'
By Wayne Drehs
BOSTON -- There's nothing new about a jersey retirement ceremony turning into a boo-fest, where die-hard fans take out their frustration on owners and general managers.
What was somewhat of a novel concept was Ray Bourque going out of his way before, after and during his celebration Thursday night to defend Bruins president Harry Sinden when the usual criticism arose.
Of even greater intrigue was the fact that Sinden, the former Boston general manager who drafted and later traded Bourque to Colorado, was unhappy with Bourque's summer Stanley Cup celebration, calling the event "embarrassing." Yet still, at least on this night, Bourque was first to defend the much-maligned team president.
"I respect Harry and how he does business," Bourque said before Thursday night's ceremony. "You know, he doesn't pull any punches. Harry is Harry and I respect that. He doesn't mess around. He'll tell you to your face what you're thinking and you'll see it."
When Bourque thanked Sinden during his speech on Thursday, the mere mention of his name stirred a chorus of boos from the capacity crowd at the Fleet Center. But Bourque stopped, pulled the microphone away from his mouth and motioned for the fans to stop. Then he explained to the fans what he told the media earlier.
"I owe Harry a lot," he said. "He drafted me in 1979 and brought me to a team so rich in history and tradition and a great town. And when I asked to be traded, that was a difficult thing for Harry Sinden. It wasn't easy for him to trade me. I know that. And he picked the right team. I had a few other teams in mind, but he picked the right one. He knows his hockey."
As for the event this past summer at Boston's City Hall, where 15,000 fans gathered to see Bourque and the Stanley Cup he won with the Avalanche, Bourque said he and Sinden never talked about the incident.
"Not about that," he said. "And that's fine. I don't have a problem with that."
Wayne Drehs is a staff writer at ESPN.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.