By Jeremy Grabowski | Follow me on Twitter @JeremyBNGhockey
For a little over a decade now, we as Bruins fans have been blessed with playoff hockey almost every year since 2008. Sure, not all of them have ended the way we would have liked, but playoff hockey is better than no
playoff hockey. We are entering a time now where we have to start asking ourselves this question, “how much longer does Boston have to win a cup with its core group of players still together and in their primes?”
Let me be more specific. By core players, I mean the guys that have been here since the Stanley Cup Championship in 2011. That involves Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara, Brad Marchand, David Krejci, and Tuukka Rask. All of these guys are in their early 30’s except for Chara, who is 43. Chara is long past his prime. With that being said, he is still finding a way to be one of the most feared and lock-down defenders in the league. Let’s go more into depth on a few of these guys.
Other than being my personal favorite player for over a decade now, Patrice Bergeron is the perfect description of what it means to be a Boston Bruin. He plays the game with his heart on his sleeve and leads by example. He does the difficult things that not a lot of guys would do. Simply because he wants to win, and he doesn’t want to let his teammates or the fans down. Bergeron has had his fair share of injuries. Some he has been able to play through, some he has not.
I don’t think anyone will forget back on October 27th, 2007 the scary scene of Bergeron laying flat on his back after being boarded by Flyers defensemen Randy Jones. He would be stretchered off the ice after a 12-minute delay to tend to the injured forward. he was diagnosed with a “Grade 3” Concussion and would miss 72 games during the regular season plus another seven in the playoffs that year.
It wasn’t until the following pre-season that Bergeron was cleared to fully participate once again. He would only score four goals and 14 assists in the first 31 games of the 2008-2009 season. Then he got hurt again. On December 20th, 2008, Bergeron collided with Dennis Seidenberg, who was a member of the Carolina Hurricanes at the time and once again, sending Bruins fans to panic. Regardless of those fears, Bergeron was back in-game action a little over a month later.
Now, on the other side of this is the injuries he did play through. More specifically, the 2013 Stanley Cup Final. In the toughest event, and at the highest level of play, Bergeron suffered torn rib cartilage in Game-Four. Then a broken rib in Game-Five. And to put the icing on the cake, he suffered a separated right shoulder and punctured lung in Game-Six. The Puncture in that lung caused it to collapse. Despite all those injuries and all the pain that comes with them, Bergeron KEPT PLAYING! He would spend the next three days after Game-Six in the hospital.
Patrice Bergeron’s injuries in 2013 Stanley Cup Final: torn rib cartilage (Game 4); broken rib (G5); separated shoulder/punctured lung (G6).— @GrantRamey (@GrantRamey) June 6, 2014
Bergeron has literally given his body and soul to this organization and the fan base. I consider myself lucky to have grown up watching and learning from his style of play. That being said, Bergeron is now 34 years old. He is still in the prime of his career, but how much longer will that be true with the injury history he has? Eventually that will take a toll on his body and he wont be the same player. Hopefully, that happens later rather than sooner.
Zdeno Chara has been the captain of the Bruins since the 2006-2007 season. He was the big piece the Bruins needed to turn its fortune around. Since joining the club, Chara has taken on the responsibility of being the captain of a team in a market that LOVES its hockey and knows the game. In Boston, if the fans are unhappy with the way you are performing, they are going to let you know! And Chara has been up to the task the whole time.
Now, Chara is well known for being the tallest person to ever be in the NHL coming at 6’9 and maybe a little more than that on skates. But, he is also known for his NHL record hardest shot at 108.8 MPH. That record has not been broken since and probably never will.
Chara has had his fair share of injury history as well. Like Bergeron, he is no stranger to toughing it out and playing through injuries. The most recent sign of this was in last year’s Stanley Cup Final. In Game-Four, Chara went to block a shot from Brayden Schenn that deflected of Chara’s stick and hit him directly in the mouth. He was spitting out blood and skating off the ice under his own power. He would return to the bench for the third period of the game with a bubble mask on his helmet but did not play. It was later revealed that Chara had broken his jaw.
A source familiar with the situation confirms to @TheAthleticNHL that Boston defenseman Zdeno Chara has a broken jaw. #stlblues @FlutoShinzawa @JoeyMacHockey— Jeremy Rutherford (@jprutherford) June 4, 2019
With two days off between Game-Four and Game-Five, all the talk around the city of Boston was, “Is Chara going to play, or is he done?” It wasn’t until hours before Game-Five that we found out he would play despite having a broken jaw. Once again, Chara showed his toughness by playing through a debilitating injury that most guys would even think of playing through. Chara came out for the start of Game-Five to a standing ovation that, to this day, still gives me goosebumps every time I watch it.
Bruce Cassidy tells @ScottOake that Chara is medically cleared to play— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) June 6, 2019
Zdeno Chara is introduced to a thunderous applause. pic.twitter.com/QMOsk9IdmB— NHL on NBC (@NHLonNBCSports) June 7, 2019
Chara is 43 now. Seriously, how much longer can this man play? I don’t have an answer to that for you, but I think he could play for another two-three years, at least. We’ve already seen one Boston icon play well into his 40’s with Tom Brady. Is Big Z going to do the same if not longer?
Brad Marchand is the youngest out of the core players coming in at 32 years old. He is the kind of player that if he isn’t on your team, you love to hate him. But, if he is on your side, you absolutely love the guy! Early in his career, he got into some trouble with suspensions and fines from the league. Since then, he has learned how to toe the line without crossing it. He is an energetic player who, like Bergeron, plays the game with his heart on his sleeve. If there was anyone you wanted to get under the skin of the opponent, it was Brad Marchand.
He quickly became a fan favorite and an essential player in this team’s future. He has six years left on his deal, so he isn’t going anywhere any time soon, but how long will the Bruins continue to be useful during those six years? Will they all be good years for the team? Will they still have a chance to win another cup?
In conclusion, the Bruins core players are still in a great position to win another cup in the next two, maybe three years. But, what about after that? How good is this team going to be by then? Hopefully, the kids that come up from Providence or players that they sign in the offseason come in and fit in seamlessly. This core group can get it together and be as good as we all know they are.
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