Marc-Andre Bourdon's hockey career ended last offseason, when it was determined that post-concussion symptoms were just too much for him to continue playing hockey at a high level. The former Flyers and Phantoms defenseman was done with hockey at age 24 as no organization opted to give an injured player a new contract in free agency.
A year later, Bourdon has resumed his hockey career in a much different place -- behind the bench as an assistant coach for Liberty University, which ices a club hockey team in the ACHA's Division 1. Liberty -- the uber-conservative Christian college founded by the controversial televangelist Jerry Falwell -- is located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Lynchburg, Va.
That's a far leap from the NHL and from Quebec, where Bourdon is from, but he seems happy with the decision after having a spiritual awakening in the wake of his playing career.
From the Liberty website, here are some quotes from Bourdon:
"A lot of guys have concussion and they just retire and can't find their way, but God has opened so many doors for me," said Bourdon, 25, who became a Christian at the end of his only season in the NHL in 2011-12.
"At Liberty, I could feel God was present," Bourdon added. "I fell in love with it. Visiting the campus, it was mind-blowing. I really connected with Jeff and Kirk and liked their enthusiasm. They're really nice guys and they work hard and are dedicated to the team. It seems like it was God's plan and I'm excited for the opportunity, not only to be able to come to this school, but most of all I'm excited to be a part of such a group. There's a peace in my heart that this is a good place for me to be."
"I left home when I was 16, and through professional hockey, it makes you mature quick," Bourdon said.
"I never played at the university level but I played Junior hockey, so I know exactly what guys need because I lived it," Bourdon said. "I feel like that brings extra credibility and I can relate to the experiences they're going through."
"I'm really happy about the opportunity to grow in my faith personally," Bourdon said. "I know at Liberty there are going to be plenty of good spiritual leaders to keep going forward."