By: Nathan Anderson | Follow me on Twitter @dairybeast
Since 2003, Patrice Bergeron has only pulled on the black and gold Boston Bruins uniform (apart from international and all-star competitions). He rose up through the ranks and became one of the most underrated players in the entire league. He then surpassed his underrated status and became properly recognized as one of the best players in the world. He even recently took his inevitable place as the captain of the Bruins following Zdeno Chara’s move to the Capitals.
Within the last week, though, Bergeron made comments that have some Bruins fans worrying. Amalie Benjamin, on September 8, posted a Bergeron quote on Twitter in which he explains that he will not be entertaining the possibility of a contract extension during the 2021-22 season. The result of these comments was a ton of fans losing their collective minds at the thought of a Bruins team without number 37. Some worry that he’ll retire while some worry that he’ll follow the likes of Chara and Krejci and make it three summers in a row that the B’s lose an iconic member of their 2011 championship core.
In this article, I’m aiming to do two things. The first is to calm everyone down and explain why this statement from Bergeron doesn’t necessarily mean the end of his career as a Bruin. The second is to recap Bergeron’s career so far and take a nice walk down memory lane, so we go into the upcoming season with good vibes surrounding Bergeron and the rest of the team.
So, let’s settle down some of the people who are stressing about this quote first. I don’t blame people for jumping to the conclusion that Bergeron is considering retirement, especially considering the fact that many of those people are also Pats fans who just got burned by Rob Gronkowski doing something similar. If my memory serves correctly, Gronk declined to commit to his future in a Pats uniform, then retired, and then came back with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
It also makes sense for people to be worried a little bit after seeing what has happened with Chara and Krejci these last two off-seasons. After losing Chara to the Capitals and Krejci to his native Czech Republic, fans are understandably feeling a bit protective over the few players who are still around to remind them of the glory of 2011.
I really don’t think that’s what this statement means, however. I think this is more a case of a veteran player who wants to put his team first and doesn’t want to distract himself or his teammates during the season. By making it clear now, before the season, that he will not be discussing a contract extension, he takes the possibility of contract rumors out of the equation.
Bergeron is a top-tier center in the NHL. He deserves to be paid like one, but he took a pay cut to allow the Bruins to continue to build a quality overall team. I don’t see him leaving the Bruins. He also still has plenty left in the tank, so I don’t see him retiring. I think this is a move by Bergeron to say, “let’s figure this out later, but right now, I want to take care of business this year.” For the last 18 years, Bergeron has given us as fans no reason not to trust him, and I think we need to keep trusting our captain.
Now that I’ve gotten that spiel out of the way, I want to take a look back at Bergy’s career up to this point to get us ready for his second season as captain of the Bruins. As I mentioned, Bergeron joined the Bruins in 2003 after being drafted 45th overall earlier that year. He made an impact right away, scoring 16 goals and adding 23 points in his rookie season, which was good enough for an eighth-place finish in Calder Trophy voting.
Over the next 17 years, Bergeron played 16 seasons and racked up four Selke Trophies, a King Clancy Memorial Award, and a Messier Award this past season. That’s before even mentioning his 2011 Stanley Cup, where he also scored the game-winning goal and scored the goal that, in my opinion, iced the game. I don’t want to get too deep into the stats, though, because I think for all Bruins fans, it’s how Bergeron has made us feel that means the most.
As a kid, I had a Bergeron home jersey that I insisted my mother ironed an “A” on so that it was accurate. Bergeron was my hero. I wore all Reebok gear when I played growing up and used the Bergeron curve on my stick. I tucked my shirt into the back of my pants and used black tape because he did. While baseball was my “main” sport, Bergeron was my idol.
Bergy is a guy that plays the game the right way. Even fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs or Montreal Canadiens have a hard time hating Patrice Bergeron because of how classy he is. I remember exactly where I was when Randy Jones drilled him from behind and sent him to the hospital on a stretcher, and I remember feeling my heart drop into my stomach, realizing his career was in jeopardy. While Chara and Krejci leaving was emotional for me as a fan, the day Bergeron moves on will be ten times that feeling.
Bergeron is a guy that makes you proud to be a Bruins fan. When he started getting the recognition he deserved league-wide, we all felt that as fans. We all sat there and smiled as the league realized what we had all known. He’s a triple gold club member, a world champion in every sense of the phrase.
This Bruins team is heading into the season with a lot of uncertainty. As fans, we don’t know who the second-line center will be; we don’t know which Jake DeBrusk or Charlie Coyle is going to show up. We don’t know how Linus Ullmark will fare between the pipes. What I do know, though, is that if there is one person in the world I want to lead this Bruins team, it’s the man who will have the “C” on his chest, Patrice Bergeron.