(Photo Credit: Paul Sancya/Associated Press)

By: Melanie DaSilva | Follow me on Twitter: @meldasilva9

The captain isn’t ready to retire from the NHL just yet.

Patrice Bergeron has reportedly decided to return to the Boston Bruins, likely on a one-year contract, according to the Worcester Telegram & Gazette’s Joe McDonald.

To end his 18th season in Boston, the 36-year-old center played the final year of his eight-year $55 million contract that started during the 2014-15 season. He’s played in 1,383 career games and has dealt with many injuries in his career.

Luckily for the Bruins, he’s not ready to hang up his skates just yet.

After Boston was eliminated from the 2022 Stanley Cup playoffs with a 3-2 loss against the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 7 of the First Round, Bergeron told reporters he was seriously contemplating retiring and needed some time to consider his future.

“I still think I have a lot of time in front of me, I guess, to make that decision,” Bergeron previously said. “I want to make sure that I take all the time that I need to make the right one. Right now, I haven’t really had time to think about it.”

Bergeron also noted that he has never been an unrestricted free agent and wanted to breathe and handle the major life decision properly.

“My whole career I’ve had contract extensions or I’ve had long-term contracts,” Bergeron also said. “I would head into the summers, I guess, with that in the back of my mind, meaning that I know what I’m doing next year and all that stuff. And now I’m 36, and I don’t have a contract, and I can actually take a step back for the first time in my career, the first time in my life that I can just reflect on what I do want looking forward for. The future.”

Last season, he led the league with 991 faceoff wins and a winning percentage of .619 and had the best puck possession numbers among players who skated at least 50 games. He also scored 65 points in 73 games, sitting behind longtime linemates Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak in scoring for the Bruins.

Bergeron also broke an NHL record by winning the Selke Trophy for the fifth time in his career. He was named on 194 of 195 ballots submitted by the Professional Hockey Writers Association and placed first on 160 of those ballots. This was also the 11th consecutive season Bergeron was named a finalist for the award, which set another NHL record.

With his return, the Bruins will have one more good run at the Stanley Cup, even with some injuries to start the season, along with a new coach, who has still yet been decided.

During end-of-the-year media availability, Bergeron announced that he had a procedure to repair a tendon in his right elbow. But fear not, Bruins fans, he said it wouldn’t affect the start of the season for him as it had an expected 10-12 week recovery. He said it only delayed his decision-making process.

“It’s something I dealt with for probably the last two years, a little less maybe,” Bergeron said. “I spoke to the doctors, and at some point, I had to get it fixed.”

Although the Bruins have not officially announced the contract or return, Bergeron coming back for another season is vital for the team as they would lack a top center without him. There is no center on the current roster, the Providence Bruins roster, or anywhere in their prospect pool that could fill his role. He has scored more than 20 goals in nine consecutive years as the Bruins’ No. 1 center.

Bergeron coming back could help play a role in the return of David Krejci. Last month, Krejci and Pastrnak earned the bronze medal for Team Czechia at the IIHF World Championship in Finland. Both of them were in Prague when Pastrnak posted a video to his story on Instagram asking Krejci if he was going to come back and play for the Bruins next year.

Krejci’s answer? He just looked at the camera with a significant smile and refused to say yes or no.

Sweeney also noted during a previous media availability that he has been in touch with Krejci’s people and anticipates talking to him at some point. In his 962 games with Boston, Krejci notched 730 points (215 goals, 515 assists) and was part of the 2011 Stanley Cup championship.

This would be great for the Bruins having Bergeron and Krejci holding down top-six roles, and Boston could potentially find themselves full of center depth with Erik Haula and Charlie Coyle on the other lines.

So when will the news become official? Bruins fans may have to wait a little bit longer than they want to. Steve Conroy of the Boston Herald said Bergeron is on vacation this week, and the tentative plan is for him to sit down with General Manager Don Sweeney next week.

Once the captain finally signs the deal, the Bruins can focus on determining who the next coach will be, and Bergeron will most likely have an opinion on the matter.