Getting to this point wasn't easy for Bordeleau. He went unsigned by the Minnesota Wild after being drafted by the team in the 4th round (114th overall) in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft. After juniors, he bounced around the ECHL and AHL, never able to get a full season in with a team. However, something in his play and dedication caught the eye of Lake Erie's General Manager David Oliver, who sought out "Bordy" in hopes he'd join the Monsters. "(Oliver) spotted me in the East Coast and gave me a shot to make Erie," the Montreal native explained. After a brief three-game stint with the AHL club in the 2008-2009 season, the six-foot-six, 225-pound forward signed a one-year contract with Lake Erie for the 2009-2010 season. He would play for the team for the entire year.
Bordeleau's performance impressed the Monsters' front office enough that he re-upped for 2010-2011. He was also invited to the Avalanche's training camp in September, playing through pre-season and being one of the last players sent back to the AHL. At the expiration of the 2011 season, Colorado inked him to a one-year, two-way deal, giving him the opportunity to be called-up to play in the NHL. Although it didn't happen, Bordy continued to give Avalanche General Manager Greg Sherman reasons to hold on to him. Over the summer of 2012, the team continued to show faith in Bordeleau by agreeing to another one-year, two-way contract.
The lockout delayed Colorado's 2012 training camp until January, at which time only a handful of the minor league's players were invited. Patrick was one of them, making his third appearance at camp in as many years. He expressed confidence that this would be his year to make the team, and he was right. Shortly after the fourth day of grueling practice concluded, the 26-year-old was told that head coach Joe Sacco wanted to see him in his office. "I thought I was getting sent down," Bordeleau confessed. Instead, the coach told him he was staying with the team not just to start the year, but perhaps the whole season. "I have no words for this. I had chills all over my body," Pat said. "I can't even explain the feeling I had inside."
It wasn't luck that got Bordy to this place, however. "It was a hard way," he said of his path to the NHL, "a long road for me." Since joining the Monsters, both Oliver and head coach David Quinn worked with Pat to help him progress as a player. This past off-season, he became intent on improving those areas in his game that needed the most development. One of those areas was skating, so he engaged in exercises to increase his speed. He also worked on becoming a more complete hockey player.
Bordeleau knows full well what he brings to a team. He realizes and accepts his role, but he's more than just a fighter. "My number one force is the forecheck. I skate hard and hit to hurt." On a team that has a reputation for being easy to play against, it's not really a surprise that Sacco wanted to add these traits to the Avalanche.
Another quality the Avs hold dear is a strong character, something Pat Bordeleau certainly has. He's always one of the last players off the ice in practices, showing a solid work ethic. He puts the team first and keeps things light in the locker room through humor. Surprisingly, given his on-ice persona, he also never gets mad.
Anyone who watches the team practice can easily see that Pat is well-liked by the team. During training camp, he was seen playfully interacting with nearly every player, including an unexpected moment of Steve Downie skating over and plopping himself down on Pat's knee while they were waiting for their turn in a shooting drill. "I was on one knee. He came over and sat (down), no questions asked." Even though they met less than a week ago, the two are already close. In fact, Bordy feels that way about all of the guys. "I get along with everybody," he said. "A hockey team is like brothers."
The differences between years in the league or years on the calendar don't matter in a locker room—or on the ice. Just as Bordy has stuff to learn from others, they have things to learn from him. "(Cody McLeod) asked me to help him about something. So (Wednesday) was his day, and (Thursday) he's going to show me something," he explained. "We're just trying to help each other at fighting."
In the end, Bordeleau knows exactly who to thank for the opportunity he's been given this week—an opportunity he's dreamed about his entire life. "I hold a lot (of this chance) to David Oliver.. . .Both (Oliver and coach Quinn) helped me tremendously. I think I owe it to those two guys."
Pat hopes he'll be able to suit up for Saturday night's game against the Minnesota Wild, the start to the delayed 2012-2013 NHL season. If he does, he will have come full circle: the team that drafted him will be the first team he plays. Of course, there will be added incentive for the young forward. The Wild also passed on signing him. He'll surely want to show them how big of a mistake that was.
For more information on Patrick Bordeleau's career, read Checking Out Patrick Bordeleau, an installment of the MHH player biography series.