When Danny Bolduc said he was going to give the WHA his "best shot" three weeks ago, at the onset of a ten-game amateur tryout, he wasn't just playing with the puck. Now, after only eight games with the New England Whalers, the former Harvard hockey star is looking anything but amateur.
For the last six games Bolduc has been skating first line for the Whalers, alongside former Montreal Canadien standouts Ralph Backstrom and Larry Pleau. The veterans' magic has rubbed off on the youngster, who has scored a goal and four assists in that stint.
The goal, his first in the pros, came against the Quebec Nordiques last Tuesday night. However, he said, "an even bigger thrill" came last Saturday when his lead pass to Backstrom won a game in overtime.
With that pass Bolduc bridged quite a generation gap, for in 1959 Backstrom won the Calder Cup as the Rookie of the Year in the NHL, while Bolduc was probably lacing up his double runners as a four-year-old star-to-be.
Now 21, Bolduc is confident not only about his past play with the Whalers, but also the eventual professional contract that is likely to result.
"I've been talking with my lawyer, and the Whalers seem really pleased with my play," Bolduc said. "Right now I'm 95 per cent sure that I'm going to sign."
A professional contract would make Bolduc ineligible for college hockey. But even if he chooses not to sign, his participation in the tryout makes him ineligible to play hockey for Harvard next year.
Clayton Chapman, assistant to the commissioner of the ECAC, spelled out the rules regarding Bolduc's eligibility. What it amounts to is that if any student-athlete plays knowingly with a group of professionals, whether or not he is being paid, he is ineligible to play that sport in college.
'No More for Me'
Bolduc said yesterday, "When I first received the chance to try out I took advantage of the opportunity, fully realizing that there would be no more Harvard hockey for me."
Harvard academics, though, certainly fit into the plans of the busy Bolduc, who will be married in June. "I'll most likely have to make up my last year during the summers in Cambridge, but there's no way I'll let my Harvard diploma slip through my hands," he said.