WASHINGTON - Ryan Bourque is relishing the experience of being part of an NHL team during the playoffs.
"The motivation that these guys show every day, how bad they want it, to see what they've been working for the entire season," said Bourque, 24, who was called up by the Rangers as a spare forward on May 2. "Each and every guy in the room, the way they handle their business on and off the ice, you can see why they've been successful. You can learn something every day, that's what I've been trying to do, soak it all in. It's my first real taste."
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Actually, it's not exactly his first taste of a Stanley Cup race. Bourque remembers spooning cereal and milk from the silver championship chalice when he was 10.
It was the summer of 2001, when his father, Ray, the Hall of Fame defenseman, won the trophy in his first full season with the Colorado Avalanche after playing two decades with the Boston Bruins. "There was a party at our house," Bourque recalled Wednesday. "It was pretty cool ... Frosted Flakes."
Today, the left wing who made his NHL debut on April 9 against Ottawa is seeing the playoffs from the inside.
"I was a fan back then, and a son supporting my dad," said Bourque, a Boxford, Massachusetts, native who vividly recalls every game, every series and where he was during his father's run. "Now I'm on a team [in the playoffs] ... It's different, but also special in its own right. To be the 13th forward is a great opportunity and I'm just working hard every day. If the opportunity to play comes my way, it would be amazing ... and surreal."
Last spring, Bourque, who was drafted in 2009, was in a group of callups known as the Black Aces, who practiced in Westchester but didn't travel with the team. Now he's part of the full squad.
Bourque finished this season with 12 goals and 32 points for the Hartford Wolfpack, who also are in the postseason. "But this is the pinnacle; this is where I want to be," he said. "It's what I've been working toward my entire life. Hopefully, I can build upon this and make the most of it."