Letang on Bourdon's death: I still can't believe it

Updated: May 31, 2008, 4:23 PM ET
By Scott Burnside | ESPN.com

PITTSBURGH -- The hockey world lost a promising young player when Vancouver Canucks defenseman Luc Bourdon died after crashing his motorcycle into a truck in northern New Brunswick on Thursday.

Letang
Letang
Pittsburgh defenseman Kris Letang lost something far greater and more profound -- he lost a friend.

The two young defensemen were teammates for two years, playing for the Val d'Or Foreurs in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. They were also teammates on two Canadian national junior teams, both of which won gold medals at the World Junior Championship. They were roommates and running mates.

This summer, they had planned to vacation together and Letang told reporters in French on Friday he had planned to buy a motorcycle so the two could tour together.

"We were supposed to go on vacation this summer and he was coming to Montreal all summer long to train," Letang, a Montreal native, told reporters at the Stanley Cup finals. "And he was a really funny guy. Like only close people could know [him] really well. He was a guy who always, like, stick up for you and always there for you."

Now, all those plans seem far away.

Bourdon had recently purchased the motorcycle and wire reports quoted local police as saying they believe his inexperience driving the bike may have contributed to the accident, which took place on a remote, winding road in Bourdon's home province. Bourdon crossed the center line and collided head-on with an oncoming truck.

"He got it three days ago," Letang said. "He was pretty excited. He's a guy who had fun with, like, sports stuff. Like Sea-Doo and sport cars and whatever. We talked about it. We know it was dangerous, but he had fun with it. I know he didn't do, like, speed with it. He just had a bad move or something. Those things, you have, like, no second chance."

Bourdon was the 10th overall pick of the Canucks in 2005. He was 21. The NHL will observe a moment of silence before Saturday's Game 4.

"I was going out of my apartment and someone called me, my agent, and just told me what happened to Luc," Letang said. "It was so tough to handle it because Luc was one of my great friends. Someone I can like always talk about my tough times and someone that always liked to have fun."

Letang, a skilled puck-moving defenseman in his first NHL season with the Penguins, wasn't in the lineup for Game 3 of the Stanley Cup finals and wasn't scheduled to play Saturday. It's likely just as well given the effect Bourdon's death has had on the young man.

"I don't know why, but this morning, I had no … energy," Letang said. "Even if I wanted to skate, I couldn't push off. It's like I lost so much energy when it happened yesterday."

The two friends last spoke just three days ago.

"We were talking about his motorcycle, and I never thought it would happen," Letang said. "I can't still believe it because when you lose someone close like that, you can't do much. And it's so tough to me. Like, right now, he was my best friend."

Scott Burnside is the NHL writer for ESPN.com.

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