Portland Pirates fans are finally getting a chance to see the real Alexandre Bolduc.
After missing most of last season because of an injury to his left shoulder, the veteran center was one of the AHL’s top players during the first month of the season, scoring six goals and five assists in his first eight games to rank among the 30-team league’s top 10 in total points.
“The offense he’s shown has been real good, but there are a lot of other things,” said Brad Treliving, the assistant general manager of the NHL parent Phoenix Coyotes. “It’s the faceoffs. It’s the intangibles that he brings. It’s the leadership he brings.”
Bolduc, 27, is playing the way the Coyotes envisioned when they signed him prior to the 2011-12 season after he spent his first six pro seasons with the Vancouver organization.
“The results all stem from his hard work,” Treliving said. “He plays hard every shift. He plays for keeps. He’s been a real good example for our young players.”
Bolduc blew out his left shoulder two weeks after signing a one-year contract with the Coyotes. He didn’t return to the ice until last February. In 23 games with the Pirates, he scored three goals and had 12 assists. He also played two games for the Coyotes during an April call-up.
“He missed two thirds of the season, and he got a year behind,” Treliving said.
Still, the Coyotes signed Bolduc to another one-year contract this past summer.
“We felt we really knew the player,” Treliving said. “Even coming back last year, I think it showed a lot about Alex. He dove right in and on many nights he was a real good player for us.”
One reason Bolduc re-signed with the Coyotes was because he wanted another crack to show the NHL team just what he could do.
“To be honest, I felt maybe I owed them because they came and they wanted me,” he said. “I felt I didn’t show them what I had to give.”
Bolduc said his strong start has a lot do with being able to adequately prepare for the season.
“It’s so nice to be healthy and start the season on time,” he said. “I trained hard this summer. I felt I was in the best shape of my life. It’s totally different starting fresh as opposed to starting halfway through the season when you’re not really in game shape.”
His teammates know Bolduc’s value to the Pirates extends beyond his goals and assists.
“He’s a mean player out there,” right wing Brett Hextall said. “Guys hate playing against him, and I think that kind of attitude definitely rubs off down through the lineup.”
Hextall, in his second AHL season, is glad the Pirates team captain plays an abrasive style similar to his own.
“It’s not always fun to be the only guy other teams are coming after,” he said. “To have a captain who is an in-your-face guy and likes to bring that style of play is great. That can become more your identity as a team.”
“He always comes up big, with the big goal or a big hit or a big play or he says something on the bench that really gets us going,” rookie right wing Chris Brown said. “Overall, it’s just his leadership ability is the best thing that he brings to me and the team.”
Bolduc doesn’t have to do a lot of talking to motivate the Pirates’ younger players.
“He leads by example, not exactly through words all the time, which I think is a better form of leadership,” Brown said. “If your captain is going hard, then you want to follow him and do what he does.”
NOTES: Since allowing eight goals during an Oct. 23 overtime to loss to the IceCaps at St. John’s, Newfoundland, Portland goalie Chad Johnson has stopped 96 of the 98 shots while chalking up three wins and two shutouts. … Portland left wing Rob Klinkhammer and defenseman David Rundblad are tied for 13th in the AHL with seven assists each. … The Pirates left Friday on a three-game road trip to Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. … The Pirates will host the Worcester Sharks next Wednesday at the Androscoggin Bank Colisee in Lewiston.
Staff Writer Paul Betit can be contacted at 791-6424 or at: