Mark Borowiecki’s time as an Ottawa Senator will be primarily remembered for three things: Big, thundering body checks, fighting to protect his teammates and a spectacularly huge heart.
The 33-year-old Kanata native announced today on Instagram he’s hanging up the blades.
Borowiecki spent 12 years in pro hockey, nine of them with his hometown Senators. In 2008, the Sens drafted him out of the CCHL, where he skated for the Smith Falls Bears. And as a 5th round selection, he wasn’t seen as a sure-fire prospect, but his work ethic, toughness and character eventually made him impossible to ignore.
In 2020, in the midst of a rebuild, the Senators opted not to re-sign Boro, paving the way for a trip to Nashville. He spent three years with the Predators but, measured by games played, Borowiecki played the equivalent one of full season.
His final NHL game was a scary one. It was back in October against the Flyers when Borowiecki was stretchered off the ice following an awkward collision with Morgan Frost. His injuries weren’t major but that ended up being his finale.
A veteran of 68 NHL career fights, Borowiecki was usually among the NHL’s hits and penalty minute leaders. But in sharp contrast to all that, he was far better known for the high character person he continues to be off the ice.
The man they call Borocop was the 2022 Masterton Trophy nominee in Nashville last year. That’s the award that goes to the player who best exemplifies perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey. It was no surprise to anyone. Borowiecki was always charming and thoughtful with the media, an uber-positive mentor to teammates, and passionately involved in community and charity events.
For example, well before NHL teams began having organized Pride Nights, Borowiecki and his wife, Tara, would walk in Ottawa’s Pride Parades. When Kyle Turris left for Nashville a year earlier, Boro took his spot as honourary captain of the Capital City Condors, a family of local hockey teams with rosters made up of players who have a cognitive and/or physical disability.
Borowiecki has also been open about his struggles with mental health and concussions, in hopes of helping others. He’s also done work with Soldier On, a program of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) which contributes to the recovery of ill and injured CAF members and veterans by providing opportunities and resources through sport, recreational, and creative activities.
If he’s starting to sound like a superhero, Borowiecki did nothing to dispel that notion in 2019 when he tried his hand at crime fighting. When the Sens were in Vancouver in 2019, Boro was shopping for baby clothes when he witnessed a cyclist breaking into a parked car. He was having none of it.
As mentioned in his Instagram statement, Borowiecki is definitely interested in staying in hockey, looking for an opportunity somewhere where he can pay the game back for everything it’s done for him. That would be great to see, especially if it’s in Ottawa. But let’s be honest, with the amount of community work and mentoring he’s done, any debt to the game Boro may feel he has was paid off a long time ago.