Let's hope Bourdon didn't die in vain
Ed Willes, The Province
Published: Monday, June 02, 2008
In the aftermath of the Luc Bourdon tragedy, there has been something of an outcry about young athletes and their use of motorcycles.
You can understand the feeling. Bourdon's death seems meaningless, but if a larger lesson can be extracted, it takes on a purpose.
Maybe another young man will be saved if NHL teams prohibit their players from riding motorbikes. Maybe we'll be spared this terrible emptiness again if they could be stopped from getting on a bike in the first place.
Last week, one scribe opined that the real tragedy of Bourdon's death was that it was preventable; that if these young players were made to understand the dangers of motorcycles, they'd never ride one.
If only it was that easy.
The reaction to Bourdon's death, of course, is an attempt to make sense out of an event which seems so utterly pointless. A 21-year-old kid who's on the cusp of great things is riding his new motorcycle on a lonely stretch of highway when he crashes into a tractor-trailer.
How does that happen? How is that part of anyone's plan?
It's not, of course, but if we can learn something from it, that means he hasn't died in vain.
Like we said, the sentiment is understandable.
It's also pretty useless.
Bourdon's death has taught us that young men tend to be risk-takers and, sometimes, don't make the most prudent choices when it comes to their well-being. And this is a life lesson? This is a great truth? Anyone who's raised a kid knows the only thing you can do is provide them with the best information possible and, once they're out the door, it's out of your hands.
You hope, you pray, that they make the right choices, that somehow they steer clear of danger. But you can no more control it than you can control the weather. There is an element of random chance to these events, an element that defies all our best efforts. Brutal things happen in life. You can't predict these things and you can't prepare for them.
If you've lived to a certain age, you know this. On Thursday, something brutal happened to Luc Bourdon and his family. There is no lesson. There is only sadness.
The more germane question, in fact, is why did his death touch so many people? Why are so many sharing the grief with Shippagan and Luc's family?
True, Bourdon was a high-level prospect with the Canucks, but he'd played all of 29 games here over two seasons, which meant he wasn't exactly a fixture in Vancouver or the NHL. Despite that, the overwhelming sense of loss has been palpable, not only here, but all over Canada.
The answer seems to be tied up in the mythology of this country and that most Canadian of stories, the young kid from the small town who, through dedication and perserverance, beats the odds and makes it to the NHL. I've never been to Shippagan, N.B., but I've been to Renfrew, Ont., and Wainwright, Alta., and Sorel, Que., and Humboldt, Sask., and a lot more towns like them. You probably have, too, and you know the local hockey star is a minor deity in those places.
Bourdon was that guy in Shippagan. Actually, he was about 100 times that guy because he was the only one from Shippagan to make it to the show, and all of Canada knows what that means.
1After all we've heard the past couple of days, the best part about Luc is that he was worthy of that adoration. He took his role in the community seriously.
You never recover from a loss like that. You just try to move on, remembering Bourdon as he was -- someone who represented the best in all of us and our country.
What do you think?
*Tell us by e-mail at prov
email@example.com Please include your name and address.