The Tragic Death of Luc Bourdon, a Promising NHL Defenseman Killed in Motorcycle Accident

In the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, the Vancouver Canucks selected a promising young defenseman named Luc Bourdon with the 10th overall pick. Bourdon was considered an offensive defenseman and was one of the promising young NHL players. After a couple of short stints with the Canucks, he appeared to have a full-time job in the NHL. Bourdon was never able to show off that potential as his life was tragically cut short in May of 2008 when he was killed in a head-on motorcycle crash. He was 21.

Luc Bourdon’s early hockey life

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When Luc Bourdon was young, a professional hockey career seemed far-fetched. When he was 9, he was in a wheelchair as he was battling juvenile arthritis, according to The Province. He proved that to be no obstacle as he helped guide Canada to a silver medal in the 2005 IIHF World U18 Championship.

At a young age, Bourdon showed he had a big heart with his generosity. As soon as he signed his first pro contract, Bourdon donated $10,000 to a local minor hockey association to buy hockey equipment for youths whose families couldn’t afford it. He did it anonymously. It was revealed after his death by his former bantam hockey coach Gilles Cormier.

“He didn’t want to make a big deal about it,” Cormier said, according to The Province. “He did it anonymously. Didn’t want anyone to know he was the one who gave the money.” Bourdon nearly made the Vancouver Canucks in his first camp as an 18-year-old in 2005. He had three assists in five preseason games but was sent back to juniors.

Bourdon’s death shocked the hockey community

On May 29, 2008, Luc Bourdon’s life was tragically cut short when he was killed instantly after his motorcycle collided head-on with a tractor-trailer near his hometown. Bourdon was well-known, especially in the area, and his death sent shockwaves throughout.

“The entire area is in shock,” a close family member said, according to Canada.com shortly after his death. “Oh my God, we can’t believe this happened. It’s an unreal tragedy. His father is crushed. Everyone knew Luc in this town. He had such a love for life and that made him such a favorite here.”

Mike Gillis, the Canucks general manager at the time, said the NHL team was “deeply saddened.” Gillis was shocked at the death and struggled to put words together. “The reaction when you have events like this occur is obviously shock and sadness for a promising career that was just about to begin in the National Hockey League,” he said, according to NHL.com.

What they said about Luc Bourdon

Luc Bourdon never got to finish what he started. He battled some injuries in the early part of his hockey career and was a 21-year-old future star. “The first couple of years with us, he felt a lot of the pressure of being a high pick. I think some of that was difficult for him,” said former GM Dave Nonis said, according to NHL.com. “I think last year he started to shake that and was enjoying being a pro.”

“His potential was incredible,” said Steve Tambellini, the Canucks assistant general manager at the time. “Not only the player but the person was starting to emerge as a professional athlete. You could sense when you got to know Luc that when he emerged as an NHL regular, he would be an impact player. He was a passionate individual that cared a great deal about his teammates. He cared a great deal about his profession.”

Former Canucks teammate Aaron Miller said Bourdon’s future was bright. “It’s horrible,” Miller said. “Great kid, great promising career … my heart goes out to his family. He was a good kid, a real funny kid. He was a little bit shy because of language difficulties, but he was a great player and he was going to be a big part of the Canucks future.”