As Rene Bourque exited the ice at the South Suburban Family Sports Center in Centennial, Colorado, he was dripping with sweat. He had just completed his first on-ice session of training camp. The beginning of camp for the 34-year-old veteran, he’s been in the league for over a decade; somehow, this one is different.

“There’s no security,” said Bourque. “Usually when you’re on a contract, you know you’re going to be here. So it’s the first year where I’m not living in a house already by the time training camp starts. So it’s a little different.”

You see, Bourque is attending camp on a professional tryout contact. There are no guarantees, save for the chance to prove that he still has a place in this league, a place on the Avalanche.

“There is a lot of pressure,” he said. “I don’t want to be done. I want to keep playing, so the pressure is all on me.”

Still, Bourque is embracing the challenge. He’s confident in his abilities, confident he can bring something to the Avalanche.

“One good thing about me, I think I can play up and down the lineup, second to fourth line, whatever it is,” he said. “So I could fill a few holes, wherever they would need me. So hopefully I could bring some leadership, some experience and some playoff experience and help some young guys. I want to play just as bad as they do.”

A three-time 20-goal scorer, the last couple of years have not gone well for Bourque. Last season, he netted only three goals and eight points for the Columbus Blue Jackets, but he’s feeling ready. Ready to prove his doubters wrong.

“I feel good,” he said. “I’m 34. I’m obviously one of the older guys on the team, but I had a good summer of training. I’m healthy, so I think that I have a lot left.”

One person with some firsthand knowledge of Bourque seems to think so too.  Jarome Iginla, his teammate with the Calgary Flames, was singing his praises at media day.

“He’s a big guy, he can skate really well,” said Iginla. “He’s got a really good shot. He can play a power game. I really enjoyed playing with him. When I played with him, he had some really good years for the team. Hopefully he’s feeling good and that confidence is there, because he was a very, very good player.”

Bourque had other options, but saw an opportunity with Colorado. The Avalanche made him no promises, other than a fair shot. New Avalanche head coach Jared Bednar seems intent on giving him just that.

“[He’ll have] the same [shot] as everybody else,” said Bednar. “He’s coming in here as an experienced guy. We have a number of guys on PTOs, and we have guys under contract. Our goal is to have the best team here, and if he comes out and plays hard and does well, then he’s got a chance, but he’ll have to earn it.”

“They just said, ‘We’re going to give you a chance and if you prove you can still play, we’d like to have you here,’” Bourque explained. “So basically, the ball’s in my court and I’ve got to prove that I want to be here.”