By Pat Graham, AP Sports Writer
The way the Colorado Avalanche see it, two Bourques are better than just one.
Forwards Gabriel Bourque and Rene Bourque each signed one-year deals Monday after being invited to camp on a professional tryout. Gabriel Bourque’s deal is a two-way contract, meaning he still has to clear waivers.
The Bourques, who are not related, add depth to a forward crew that already includes Nathan MacKinnon, captain Gabriel Landeskog and Matt Duchene.
“We feel like they’ve earned the right to be here, earned the contracts,” first-year Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said. “Both are a little bit different players, but both have been good in their own ways through training camp and the preseason games.”
Gabriel Bourque is coming off an injury-marred season that limited him to 22 games with Nashville. He suffered a head injury on Nov. 27 and didn’t return.
“It’s been a tough 10 months,” said Gabriel Bourque, a fifth-round pick by the Predators in 2009. “But it’s a new day, a new year, a new start. There’s a little less weight on my shoulders right now.”
In Gabriel Bourque, Colorado gets a “tough competitor. Takes a lot of pride in the defensive part of the game, being a gritty competitor,” Bednar said.
Rene Bourque brings a wealth of experience having suited up in 660 career games with Chicago, Calgary, Montreal, Anaheim and Columbus. The 34-year-old played in 49 games with the Blue Jackets last season and scored three goals.
In Rene Bourque, Colorado receives a player who “can move up and down our lineup, on the left side and the right side,” Bednar said.
As an added bonus to signing his deal, Rene Bourque can finally bring his family to the Mile High City. They were in a holding pattern until he made the roster.
“It’s going to be nice to get them down here as soon as possible,” he said.
After such a solid career, attempting to make the roster on a professional tryout was a bit humbling. But he took it in stride.
“I put myself in this situation, and so I had to dig myself out,” said Rene Bourque, who was signed by Chicago as a non-drafted free agent in 2004 after playing collegiately at the University of Wisconsin. “I wouldn’t have come here if I didn’t think I could still play. … It was up to me to perform and make a name for myself again.”
In other moves Monday, the Avalanche reassigned defenseman Duncan Siemens to San Antonio of the American Hockey League.
The roster is nearing completion with the season about to kick off for Colorado on Saturday against Dallas. Bednar is still waiting on the health status of a few of his veteran players to put the finishing touches on his team. Jarome Iginla and John Mitchell are dealing with aching hips, while Blake Comeau has a groin ailment.
“We don’t know exactly who’s going to be ready for Saturday,” Bednar said. “The individual situations have a trickle-down effect for the rest of the roster.”