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Canadian Press
10/12/2006 6:55:22 PM

VANCOUVER (CP) - Rookie defenceman Luc Bourdon will be given another chance to show if he should stay when the Vancouver Canucks face the San Jose Sharks Friday night in their NHL home debut.

Bourdon, picked 10th overall by Vancouver in last year's draft, will replace Sami Salo, who will miss the game with a groin injury.

After almost making the team last year, a lot was expected of the six-foot-two, 200-pound Bourdon this season. He has size, he likes playing physical, and he can move the puck.

The 19-year-old struggled during the exhibition season. He then looked tentative and nervous in his first NHL game Tuesday night in Minnesota where he saw almost eight minutes of ice time dressed as a seventh defenceman.

"I think I did play good last game so I will try to do the same thing," Bourdon, a native of Shippagan, N.B., said after practice Thursday.

"I have to do my job on the ice. Go out there, work hard, do the simple things."

Coach Alain Vigneault said with the Canucks having the last change, he expects Bourdon to see more ice time against the Sharks.

"Luc has come along well," Vigneault said. "He's a young player with a lot of potential.

"If we want him to grow and develop properly, we have to put him in situations where he can have success. At this stage we feel Luc can play against the third and fourth line and do well."

The Canucks can dress Bourdon for nine games before they decide if they are going to keep him for the remainder of the season or return him to the Moncton Wildcats of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League.

It can be a tough choice. The Vancouver coaching staff must decide if Bourdon's development is better served by playing limited minutes in the NHL, or being head-and-shoulders better than most of his opposition in junior.

"If Luc can play and contribute and help us win games, he's going to stay," Vigneault said. "If at some point we figure he's not helping us win games and he's not ready for the NHL, then we're going to make that decision.

"At this time, what we've seen, is a lot of up side. His skill is evident but playing defence is a tough position."

Bourdon said he isn't feeling squeezed by the nine-game window.

"They'll decide at the end what they want to do," he said. "If I do the job, I think I have a chance to stay.

"If you don't play well, you're not going to play."

The Canucks (2-1-1) opened the season with a four-game road trip where they managed to earn five of a possible eight points.

It's a positive start for a team picked by many to miss the playoffs this year.

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