Ray Bourque spent parts of 21 seasons with the Boston Bruins before a trade to the Colorado Avalanche in March 2000.

One month later, the New England Patriots selected Tom Brady in the sixth round of the 2000 NFL Draft.

The two events have little to do with each other, but Bourque can relate to Brady on some level 20 years later as the quarterback prepares to enter free agency for the first time in his football career. There once was a time when the Bruins legend couldn’t envision leaving Boston — just like there was a time not long ago when Brady signing with a team other than the Patriots seemed like a long shot — yet circumstances can change.

“For me, I never thought I would leave Boston and I never would have to leave Boston. But the situation I was in, I had to leave Boston if I was going to play a couple more seasons. That was my case,” Bourque said on “Extra Sauce with Greg Hill” over the weekend, per WEEI.com. “His situation is different in terms of respect and maybe in terms of money, and what he’s been able to do compared to the other quarterbacks who are making $30 million or close to $40 million, where Tom is thinking about the team a lot. Not that he wasn’t making big bucks, but you look at him and he’s been the best for so many years. You would think that he would be on top of that list. That will certainly come into play. And other teams that have things set up for him to have success will come into play.”

As Bourque notes, the situations are very, very different. While Bourque was shipped out of town via trade at age 39 to pursue his first Stanley Cup, Brady already has six Super Bowl titles and can sign wherever he’d like upon hitting the open market.

Still, it’s interesting to hear Bourque’s perspective as someone who spent so much time with a Boston franchise, only to turn and finish his career elsewhere. And the former Bruins defenseman believes Brady needs to consider his current comfort level in New England before making a final decision.

“It will be interesting because I think he will get to free agency, and from that point on, all bets are off,” Bourque said, as transcribed by WEEI.com. “I would like to see the Pats sign a couple of guys to really make him see that he’s going to have some help and some weapons. I think that would certainly go a long way if I were in his shoes, knowing that you are coming back to better and are back in the mix as far as fighting for a Super Bowl again.

” … I certainly would love to see him come back and finish his career here in Boston. This is where he belongs, but like I said, things have to look right for him in terms of what he’s coming back to.”

There figures to be no shortage of interest in Brady when he hits free agency March 18. Until then, we’re left to speculate about his future, wondering whether we’ve really seen the last of No. 12 in a Patriots uniform.

Thumbnail photo via Greg M. Cooper/USA TODAY Sports Images