There has been a trend over the last couple of seasons with the Colorado Avalanche of late bloomers finding an NHL home with the team. Defensemen Nick Holden and Andre Benoit, two players who fit that bill, have already been discussed on Avalanche 101. Another player, forward Patrick Bordeleau, has recently done the same.
Bordeleau has found a niche that has enabled him to make it to the NHL and stick with the Avalanche. He is what you could call a prototypical enforcer. He plays on the fourth line and makes his living by physically punishing opponents in order to create chances for his teammates and disrupt chances for the opposition. Most of Bordeleau's efforts don't appear on the score sheet, but he has a clear role and he fills it well.
Like a couple of his teammates, it took a very long time for Bordeleau to break into the NHL. Although he has immense size at 6'6" and 225 pounds, he doesn't have outstanding talent, and it is especially difficult for players of that mold to make it to the highest level of pro hockey. Although enforcers are needed, a team only needs a couple of players who have that particular role. The demand for them isn't as high as the demand for players whose skills allow them to rack up points. So Bordeleau played in the minors for quite a while before donning an Avalanche sweater.
Between the AHL and the even lower level ECHL, Bordeleau played for nine different minor league teams from 2007 to 2012. He didn't move around nearly as far as Andre Benoit, but he certainly moved around more often. But now he has honed his craft to the point where he has become a regular contributor for the Avalanche. Over the last two seasons, Bordeleau has played in 128 out of 130 regular season games for Colorado, and all seven playoff games last April. At this point, it is safe to say that he is an established NHL player.
Since Bordeleau has been in the Avalanche lineup night in and night out for back to back years, we can reasonably project that he will continue in his current role for the foreseeable future. He has endeared himself to a certain segment of Avalanche fans by being an example of how it is possible to make it to the big league without being a prodigy. Fans love to see him use his size and toughness to bring a different element to the game of hockey than what most players bring. He has what some might call an "average joe" appeal that makes him relatable for some fans. But while his overall talent level may be average, there is nothing average about the heart with which he plays or the heaviness with which he asserts himself on the ice.Tags: Andre Benoit, Colorado, Colorado Avalanche, Hockey, NHL, Nick Holden, Patrick Bordeleau