But it may also be a last chance.
Considered one of the top forwards in the league when he averaged 25 goals a season with Calgary from 2008 to 2011, Bourque has scored fewer than that in the last three seasons combined. He's also failed to stick with three teams in his NHL career, with Montreal becoming the latest to trade him when it sent him to the Ducks for defenseman Bryan Allen last week.
"We're hoping that this works out as a good fit," Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau said Saturday after watching Bourque skate with his team for the first time. "It obviously didn't work out in Montreal for whatever reason. I don't think his skills have diminished at all. Hopefully we can motivate him to the point that he's playing the way he was in the playoffs last year."
Bourque, 32, had eight goals in 17 postseason games last spring, one fewer than he scored in 63 regular-season games. And while that proved he still has the tools to be a top-shelf winger, his slow start this season — two assists in 13 games — exhausted what remained of the Canadiens' patience. So Montreal sent him down to its minor-league affiliate in Hamilton, Ontario, then traded him 10 days later.
"I'm very excited," said Bourque, who cleared immigration quickly and arrived in Southern California on Friday. "I was looking to be moved after everything went down in Montreal. I think I have a lot left and I think I have a lot to give this team."
But while the deal represents an opportunity for Bourque, for the teams the trade was little more than a salary swap. The Ducks, with a surplus of defensemen, were paying Allen $3.5 million while Bourque will make $3.3 million. However Bourque, who is fast, strong and has an excellent shot, also fits the Ducks' style — so much so that General Manager Bob Murray said he briefly pursued a deal for him last summer.
"He's got an edge to his game and he can bring a physical side," said Tim Jackman, who played with Bourque in Calgary. "We have a big team and we all come physical, we're hard to play against.
"That's the kind of identity we want as a team. And I think he brings that."
Boudreau said Saturday he hadn't decided whether Bourque would make his Ducks' debut Sunday against Arizona or Tuesday against his former team, the Calgary Flames.
Either one is fine with Bourque, who said the move from Hamilton to Anaheim represented more than just a second chance. It also meant he could wear shorts to work in the winter. On Saturday, midday temperatures in Ontario were in the 40s while in Southern California it was in the 70s.
"That doesn't hurt either," Bourque said with a grin.
The Ducks have gone to overtime in a league-high nine of their first 21 games. And while that's been challenging, forward Kyle Palmieri says the experience could pay off late in the season.
"Just the emotional wear it takes, being in an overtime game where next goal wins and that kind of stuff," he said of the Ducks, who split a pair of shootouts on last week's two-game trip to Canada. "Those games come February, March, April are going to be close games and everyone's going to be playing for playoff spots. [Experience in] those tight games, those pressure situations are pretty big when you get down to the nitty-gritty."
On the air: TV: FS West. Radio: 830.
Etc.: After playing three of their last four games on the road, the Ducks will play three in a row and five of their next six at the Honda Center. Home cooking hasn't helped the team much this season, though, since it has won just five of 10 games in Anaheim.