By Carrie Young | Follow me on Twitter @carrieyoung512
With Zdeno Chara’s official departure to the Washington Capitals yesterday, the Bruins will have a new captain for the first time in 14 seasons. General Manager Don Sweeney confirmed in a video conference this morning that the Bruins will name a captain for the 2020-21 season, and the choice is a clear one.
Bergeron is the longest-tenured player on the Bruins, having joined the team over 17 years ago. He was drafted 45th overall by Boston in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft and quickly became an essential part of the roster after an impressive rookie season. He has been impressive both on and off the ice throughout his career, earning him a reputation as an elite talent and an excellent locker room presence. He served as a leader within the team alongside Zdeno Chara after the defenseman was named captain in 2006, and it seemed inevitable that Bergeron would someday wear the “C” himself.
Now, the time for Bergeron to take over the captaincy has come, though perhaps under less than ideal circumstances. It will be difficult to see Chara go, especially so soon before the upcoming season and after a disappointing result in last year’s playoffs. However, nobody should doubt Bergeron’s ability to lead a team. His consistent performance in-game and his charitable work and contribution to the Boston community set an example to young players and provide a healthy environment.
Bergeron is a highly decorated player, with a number of awards and honors under his belt. He has been to two NHL All-Star games, has four Frank J. Selke trophies, one King Clancy Memorial Trophy, an NHL Foundation Player Award, numerous Bruins team awards, and was the EA Sports NHL cover athlete in 2015. He has also won a Stanley Cup (in 2011), an IIHF World Championship gold medal, two Winter Olympics golds (2010 and 2014), and a World Cup of Hockey gold (2016). His resume alone shows a commitment to the game of hockey and the ability to foster a winning environment.
Though Sweeney didn’t use Bergeron’s name in his video conference, he confirmed fans’ speculation when asked about next season’s captain. He also explained that it is too soon to make the announcement now, and the team will take a moment to appreciate Chara’s departure before moving on.
“We expect to have a captain,” Sweeney said this morning. “We’re going to allow this some time to breathe, for Zdeno [Chara] and his decision, but we will make a decision moving forward. I think it’s an obvious decision, one that we’ll make in a respectful manner at an appropriate time.”
He continued to say that Bruins management is confident about the team’s leadership core even without Chara and that some veterans hope to fill bigger roles than they had in the past. “[Players] have to grow into that,” Sweeney said. “That’s a learned [skill], that’s not a born-in ability in my opinion. We’re going to allow for some of that latitude, but we have a lot of strong guys that are looking to continue the success that they’ve previously had [and] pass it on to the next cast of players that hopefully become integral parts of this hockey club.”
On his end, Chara fully supports Bergeron as the next Bruins captain. He had high praise for the 35-year-old forward and endorsed the inevitable decision to hand over the reins after so many years playing together.
The Bruins will likely make their final announcement in the coming weeks before starting the 2021 season. The new-look Bruins will make their season debut in Newark against the New Jersey Devils on January 14th.