Friday, January 8, 2010

The Scars Of A Gladiator...Or, Whatever Happened to Dennis Bonvie?

Question about the former Bruins' enforcer for a brief time (2001-02 season) was answered last night at the Washington Capitals-Ottawa Senators tilt at the Verizon Center.

Bonvie, one of hockey's all-time toughest customers with more than 4,500 career penalty minutes in the NHL (311) and AHL spanning 15 seasons, is in his first year with the Chicago Blackhawks as a pro scout. He worked for the Toronto Maple Leafs in a similar capacity last season after he retired as a player with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins at the end of the 2007-08 campaign.

He only played 23 games for the B's scoring once and adding 3 points to add to his 84 penalty minutes, and told me that his time in Boston was "too short," and wished he could have stayed on. Interestingly enough, for Bonvie, his points with the Bruins were the only ones he ever scored in a 92-game NHL career that saw time with the Edmonton Oilers, Chicago Blackhawks, Pittsburgh Penguins, Ottawa Senators and Colorado Avalanche. No wonder he has such nice memories of his moments in Beantown!

This is one of the great things about covering an NHL beat, and that is you get to see a lot of the guys who have remained in hockey after their playing careers have ended.

The 36-year-old Antigonish, NS native, like most players you encounter in this sport, was polite, humble and approachable. He wears the scars of his craft all over his face and hands, but has moved on to the next phase of his life, searching out talent learned from years of riding buses and getting the most out of his limited skills.

Bonvie was one of the most feared fighters of all time, despite his relatively modest size when compared to the many heavyweights he did battle with. But now, he carries himself with the professionalism and grace of so many who paid a dear physical price to play the game they love and can't walk away from it completely.

I got a laugh out of him when I informed him that "his" Blackhawks were beating up on the Bruins last night, but he also said quietly that he loved wearing the spoked B even if for such a minute fraction of his career.

So, for all you fight fans out there- one of hockey's true gladiators is alive and doing well; he's got the scars to prove it.

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