BOSTON (AP) – Hockey Hall of Fame defenseman Ray Bourque, one of the most popular and productive players in Boston Bruins history, rejoined the team on Thursday as a coaching consultant.

Bringing Bourque, 44, back into the team fold has been in the works for a couple of years, general manager Mike O’Connell said, but the process accelerated in the past few weeks.

Bourque, a former first-round draft pick who played for the Bruins for 21 years before a late-career trade to the Colorado Avalanche where he won his only Stanley Cup, will work with the team at practice two to four times per week starting on Friday, O’Connell said.

“Ray was a great player and a great Bruin and coach Mike Sullivan feels that he can add a lot to his staff,” O’Connell said.

Bourque’s role with the team will evolve.

“Ray and I will talk about specifics as we go, but we certainly feel he can help us,” Sullivan said. “He’ll work with special teams and our defense. His presence can only bring positives to our team.”

Bourque was the eighth overall pick in the 1979 draft. He won the Calder Trophy as the NHL’s top rookie; the Norris Trophy as the league’s top defenseman five times; and was a 12-time first team All-Star. He is the highest-scoring defenseman in league history with 410 goals and 1,169 assists for 1,579 points in 1,612 career regular-season games.

Bourque is the Bruins career leader in games played, assists and points with 395 goals and 1,111 assists for 1,506 points in 1,518 games.

He also has 41 goals and 139 assists for 180 points in 214 career playoff games.

He was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2004.

AP-ES-11-03-05 1853EST

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