Bourdon's inexperience on motorcycle may have contributed to crash
SHIPPAGAN, New Brunswick -- Luc Bourdon received his motorcycle license two weeks before his bike veered into a truck on a winding, two-lane road, instantly killing the rookie defenseman for the Vancouver Canucks.
"The impact took place in the opposite lane," Inspector Roch Fortin said during a news conference at Shippagan town hall, where flags were at half-staff. "The truck driver tried everything in his power to avoid the accident."
Fortin suggested weather might also have been a factor in the crash in this remote, largely Acadian area where Bourdon was regarded as a hero for making it to the NHL.
The Mountie said the wind was gusting heavily at the time on the road between Shippagan and Lameque. He said Bourdon's bike crossed the center line and collided head-on with the truck.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said a moment of silence will be observed Saturday before Game 4 of the Stanley Cup finals between the Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins. He said the ceremony will "honor a young life ended long before its promise could be fulfilled."
"The National Hockey League family grieves with the family, friends and teammates of Luc Bourdon," Bettman said in a statement from Pittsburgh.
Bourdon's uncle, Robert Boucher, said his nephew was so dedicated to hockey that he took no time off in the last five years as he pursued his dream of playing in the NHL. He said Bourdon came home to Shippagan this week for a month vacation to play golf and be with friends. Many of them rode motorcycles.
"He loved to have fun," Boucher said in French during a news conference in this community of 3,000 about 150 miles north of Fredericton. "Like anyone who is 21, he loved motorcycles. He wanted to buy a bike. That was his choice."
Bourdon was the first-round draft pick of the Canucks in 2005, selected 10th overall. He split last season between Vancouver and Manitoba of the American Hockey League. He played 27 games with the Canucks, scoring two goals and drawing 20 penalty minutes. He played a key role in Canada's gold-winning teams at the 2006 and 2007 world junior championships.
Boucher described his nephew as someone who "liked to be crazy and do crazy things."
"He was always ready to help people out -- people in the family and others as well," he said. "We lost our little Luc, but I think that Shippagan as well has lost someone important."
The crash occurred not far from Bathurst, where an accident in January killed seven members of the Bathurst High basketball team and an adult.
Anna Boucher, Bourdon's great-aunt, said the family is struggling.
"It's so sad," she said. "He was a good guy."
She said that although Bourdon's NHL career took him to Vancouver, he often returned to Shippagan.
"He came to the arena and he used to talk to all the little guys there and he used to play hockey with them," she said from her home in Shippagan.
Jacques Robichaud lives across the street from Luc Bourdon's father.
"Naturally, the community is saddened," Robichaud said in French. "We all followed his hockey career from the beginning."
Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press