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Things will look different next season. Patrice Bergeron has officially retired and David Krejci could follow. Boston has veterans in place that can help be leaders, but Don Sweeney has a vision. One player in particular will be expected to take the next steps as a leader.

Sweeney envisions David Pastrnak taking that next step in a leadership role. With the core group taking a new shape, this player is the face of the franchise. Pastrnak is a seasoned veteran, and he highlights the next wave of Bruins hockey. 

New Leadership Team in Place

As mentioned above, the top-tier leadership team is gone. Boston Bruins hockey is entering a new wave, which will need a new leadership team. That said, they must step up and become the lead voice in the locker room. 

That leadership team is highlighted by Charlie McAvoy, Hampus Lindholm, Brandon Carlo, Charlie Coyle, and most notably, David Pastrnak. As this team looks to avenge its disappointing loss in Game Seven, these players will be leaned on heavily. 

Growing Through the Pain

Every team experiences growing pains and in recent memory, teams have gone through those and came back stronger. After being swept by the Columbus Blue Jackets in 2019, the Tampa Bay Lightning went on to win two straight Stanley Cups. Even the Toronto Maple Leafs got over the first-round hurdle, as they suffered multiple early exits. The same can be said for the Bruins during the 2010s and this core group.

There have been growing pains for this core group. Every player mentioned above, minus Lindholm, skated in that Game Seven defeat to the St. Louis Blues to lose the Stanley Cup. The players were much younger, and that was their first taste of a deep playoff run. Fast forward a few seasons, and the Bruins were on the cusp of something special. It was a historic season for the Bruins, and the teams’ result was a disappointing first-round exit. Sweeney sees optimism in this situation as history can repeat itself. 

Learning From the Past

For this core group to take the following steps, they must learn from their mistakes. Adversity is a great tool to learn from and help fuel the fire. What this leadership group can do is take a page out of the 2010 Boston Bruins book and fuel their own fire. That Boston Bruins team coughed up a 3-0 series lead to the Philadelphia Flyers and a 3-0 lead in Game Seven. Simon Gagne crushed the spirits of the team and the entire city as that goal went on to haunt everyone. That loss fueled the fire, and the Bruins won the Stanley Cup a season later. In addition, they went on to sweep that same Flyers team in the 2011 playoffs. The Boston Bruins would end up going on a deep run in 2013 after being defeated in the first round the year prior.

Sweeney is optimistic in this regard and said, “I mean, 2010 goes against Philadelphia, lose, and turn around and win the next year,” Sweeney recalled. “The core guys here have taken to heart that they feel like we had a historic regular season, but we had a failure in the playoffs. We have to learn and grow. And that next core, as we would call them, they have to take that, take umbrage with the disappointment and drive. They have to drive from this team from now on. That’s just a fact, and they are excited about that challenge.”

It will be a challenge, and it will be great to see this core exercise its demons and avenge this season’s exit. Not to mention, the core in place still remembers the 2019 loss as well. Fueling their own fire will be huge in overcoming their shortcomings. In Sweeney’s eyes, it all starts with Pastrnak, and rightfully so. 

Pastrnak’s Time to Lead

Sweeney and David Pastrnak agreed on a contract extension. Pastrnak will remain in Boston for the next eight years and he got his hefty payday of $11.5 million per season. He is worth every penny and will be a leader and player to be counted on. His eye-opening season with 61 goals and 113 points is everything you can ask for with your superstar winger. Sweeney has high praise for his star winger, saying, “David is a great indication and a lot of rhetoric about what David is going to do,” Sweeney said of his highest-paid player. “David’s heart has been in Boston, and he wanted to be part of this year, you know, a transition, likely coming within the next eight years of his career. He’s now part of leadership. He’s talked about learning from people. I think it’s a great indication of, and you put ‘March’ [Brad Marchand] and ‘Pasta,’ you know, [Charlie] Coyle, and [Pavel] Zacha and [Hampus] Lindholm, [Charlie] McAvoy and the goaltending situation and of the other guys. That’s the next core for the Boston Bruins, and we’re excited about that.”

Pastrnak has had the luxury of learning from former captain Zdeno Chara and current captain Patrice Bergeron. The club has had other leaders walk through the door with David Backes and Nick Foligno. How can anyone forget about David Krejci and Brad Marchand. Whether your jersey has a letter does not matter as anybody can help lead. Another leader who will be present this season is Milan Lucic. Leaders will be all over the room this season, but expectations for Pastrnak to lead the way are high. 

Expectations Are High

As with every sports team in Boston, expectations will be high. That is an easy thing to expect after winning the Presidents Trophy and setting the record for most wins and points in a single season. However, replicating this season is unlikely, but the expectations are still high. 

This core group is intact, and the leadership must take charge. It is their team now, and their leadership growth helps shape the Bruins beyond this season. David Pastrnak will have high expectations of carrying this team and leading the way. 

Pastrnak has blossomed into a sensational talent, and as the next eight years approach, he will be the nucleus of the team, not the functioning cells around it. The Hart Trophy nominee will have Hart Trophy-like expectations moving forward.