June 03, 2015

Sebastien Bordeleau

Meet Sebastien Bordeleau. International hockey player of mystery.

Sebastien was born in Vancouver, raised as a youth in France and later in Quebec, played all over North America before finishing his career in Switzerland. Though he played for France internationally, he always considered himself a Canadian through and through.

"I was five when we moved (to France) and I was there for seven years, and then we moved back to Montreal for my second year of peewee, and then bantam, midget, and junior, with Hull."

So how did Sebastien's vagabond youth begin? That's easy - his father travelled the globe on his own hockey journey. Paulin Bordeleau was a former NHLer from Quebec who represented France at the 1988 Olympics. He stayed there for many seasons to play and coach.

That meant Sebastien and brother Paulin Jr. got lots of ice time thanks to Dad's job.

"He'd come on the ice with us whenever he could," Sebastien said, "and we learned so many things from him, how to skate, how to shoot, a lot of technical things. It was great that my brother was there. It made things a lot more fun.

"When we watched him play in the French League, you could see he was one of the best players in the league. He was determined, and he still thought about the NHL, I think."

Paulin Sr. played for the Vancouver Canucks in the 1970s, as well as the WHA version of the Quebec Nordiques. He also had two brothers play in the NHL - Jean Paul and Christian. "That's one thing that I wish I could have experienced more," Sebastien admitted, "seeing more of my dad and uncles playing in the NHL. We were so young that we don't remember much, but we see the old pictures and we have a laugh."

When Sebastien moved back home to Quebec his hockey training overseas certainly did not hurt him. He was clearly one of the best players at every level he played. In fact, in Hull Bordeleau was the leading scorer in the Canadian Hockey League in 1994-95, scoring 52 goals and amassing 128 total points.

His fine him play saw him drafted by Montreal in 1993 (73rd overall). But being drafted by the Canadiens was not your typical Quebecois dream come true.

"To tell you the truth, just being drafted by any team was great. It's not like I grew up in Montreal and followed all their players. But it was nice because my dad was in the organization at that time and he knew my potential, so he was pushing me to be my best. But it's tough in Montreal when you're a young player because there's so much pressure to win and play well."

After three years with the Habs, Sebastien joined the Nashville Predators and played a bigger role. In 1998-99 he scored a nice 16 goals and 40 points.

Disaster struck two seasons later. He suffered a career-threatening injury when he broke a vertebrae in his neck and missed most of the 2000-01 season.

"Once you lose your spot on a team, someone else takes it and you have to start all over again. But in order to do that you need a coach who trusts you, and I didn't have that."

Bordeleau really bounced around the NHL in 2001-02, his last in the NHL. He went from Minnesota to St. Louis to Phoenix to the minor leagues before being released from his contract.

That's when Bordeleau followed again in his father's footsteps and extended his hockey career in Europe.

"Then Bern called and I would have never forgiven myself if I had said no to their offer. I didn't know about their hockey, but it was a great contract and it turned out well. We had Christian Dube and Yves Sarault on the team, and my wife joined me and we won the championship. It was a good year."

Bordeleau would play another decade in Switzerland, while also representing France at World Championships and Olympic qualifying tournaments.

Bordeleau retired in 2012. He returned to Montreal and became a skills coach for Hockey Canada's women's national team.

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