Suzanne Boucher, left, mother of the late Vancouver Canucks defenceman Luc Bourdon, embraces his girlfriend Charlene Ward, as they look at his photo on a tribute wall unveiled by the NHL team in Vancouver, B.C. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
VANCOUVER - The large photograph on the wall at GM Place shows a smiling Luc Bourdon holding up the puck from his first NHL goal.
The young defenceman with the big grin and bright future is gone but his memory remains.
"For Luc to be here always, it means a lot for us," said his mother Suzanne Boucher.
The Vancouver Canucks unveiled the Luc Bourdon wall of dreams Thursday to remember the 21-year-old from Shippagan, N.B., who died in a motorcycle accident in May. The dedication was made prior to the Canucks opening their NHL season against the Calgary Flames.
The wall is a collection of photographs of Canucks players interacting with children. One photo, which shows goaltender Roberto Luongo chatting with a minor hockey player in goalie gear, has the word "inspiration" on it. Another, a shot of defenceman Mattias Ohlund and a young player, has the word "courage."
The wall is anchored by a large photo of Bourdon, his hair tousled, holding his puck. The caption says passion.
Under his photo are pucks from the junior teams he played for plus the Team Canada junior squad he helped lead to two world junior championships. The wall is framed by 191 hockey pucks from minor hockey associations from around B.C.
Boucher battled back tears as she looked at the photographs and felt a wave of memories flow over her.
"He always helped little guys and little girls," she said. "If he would have saw this he would have been amazed to see all these little pucks from all these communities."
The Canucks say they want to celebrate Bourdon's life. That remains a challenge for his girlfriend Charlene Ward and the rest of the Bourdon family.
"There is no words for how I feel," Ward said in a voice barely above a whisper. "It's really hard. I can't even look at pictures or see a video.
"I'm glad they are doing this. I want to be here for Luc."
Ward managed a smile when she talked about Bourdon's connection with the fans in Vancouver.
"Luc loved Vancouver, how much he was supported by the fans," she said. "When I came here, we would go out in the streets and people would point at him. He would be recognized.
"He was really proud. I hope he sees this."
Bourdon was taken 10th overall by the Canucks in the 2005 draft. The six-foot-three, 211-pounder was so impressive in his first camp he came close to making the team.
He eventually returned to junior and helped Canada win back-to-back gold medals at the world junior hockey championships.
Bourdon split last season between Vancouver and the Manitoba Moose of the American Hockey League. He played 27 games with the Canucks, scoring two goals and collecting 20 penalty minutes.
Chris Zimmerman, the Canucks president and chief executive officer, said the wall is a tribute to Bourdon's success on and off the ice.
"Luc came from a small town, a place that is hard to make in the world of hockey but he did," said Zimmerman. "He did it through hard work, a quiet confidence and a tireless commitment to be better."
Bourdon never forgot where he came from. Last year he anonymously donated $10,000 to the local minor hockey association to help families that could not afford hockey equipment, Zimmerman said.
"The dream wall is a reminder of the joy that hockey brings to all ages, all skill levels and what it brought to Luc's life," he said.
Canucks forward Alex Burrows said Bourdon would have been embarrassed by all the fuss.
"He would say 'Don't do this for me, I'm just a normal guy,"' said Burrows, one of Bourdon's closest friends on the Canucks. "Obviously it's really nice what they are doing. As players, that's a real classy thing the organization is doing."