Sunday, December 04, 2022

Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron returns for 19th season

Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron returns for 19th season

BOSTON ( Associated Press) — Boston Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron is returning for another season.

Nearly three months after leaving the ice with no certainty that he would return, the five-time Selke Trophy winner signed a one-year deal with the Bruins on Monday. This would pay him $2.5 million, plus another possible $2.5 million in incentives.

Bergeron, 36, led the Bruins to the 2011 NHL Championship and two other trips to the Stanley Cup Finals during an 18-year career as the league’s leading two-way forward. Boston was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the Carolina Hurricanes on May 14, and coach Bruce Cassidy was fired three weeks later.

Jim Montgomery was hired to replace Cassidy, and the new coach said in his introductory news conference That Bergeron was his first call. Team CEO Charlie Jacobs said Bergeron was expected to return.

“So, fingers crossed,” he said in July.

It worked.

Bergeron has 400 goals and 582 assists – all with the Bruins, who picked him in the second round of the 2003 draft. Since then, he has established himself as one of the most respected players in the game.

When he is gone, the Bruins are expected to retire his number 37, making him the 12th player so honored. He is potentially inducted into the first-ballot for the Hockey Hall of Fame as soon as he is eligible.

But now it won’t until at least 2026.

Bergeron is third in Bruins history with 1,216 games played, and fourth in goals, assists and points. He is the second all-time player for the Original Six franchise with 47 playoff goals and 123 points.

Bergeron’s 11 straight seasons as a Selke finalist – including this year – is the longest streak of top three finishes for an NHL award, breaking Wayne Gretzky’s record for 10 consecutive years as an MVP finalist. (Gretsky won the Hart Trophy nine times.)

Bergeron played 2021–22 without a future contract for the first time in his career, scoring 25 goals with 40 assists and helping the Bruins reach the playoffs for the 14th time in his 18 seasons. They were eliminated by the Hurricanes in seven matches.

“That’s why it probably hurts more, with him unknown for next year,” Brad Marchand, the second-longest player on the roster, said after the Game 7 loss.

“They have done a lot and sacrificed a lot for this group,” Marchand said. “It would have been nice for him to score a good run. So, it’s disappointing.”

Bergeron was the last Boston player out of the ice in Carolina, leading his teammates through the handshake line after the series with the Hurricane and then remaining on the ice to hug each of his teammates.

But he said that he has not decided about his future.

“It’s tough when it ends like this,” Bergeron said after the game. “It bites. It’s not the feeling you want. But that being said, we did it together.”

Bergeron and Marchand are the only players from the 2011 Stanley Cup Championship squad to remain on the Bruins’ roster. Long-time captain Zdeno Chara left as a free agent in 2020, David Kreczy opted to play at home to the Czech Republic last summer and goalkeeper Tukka Rusk skipped his return from hip surgery in the middle of this season. Gave.

The Bruins have 25-year-old David Pasternak on offense, 24-year-old Charlie McAvoy on defense and 22-year-old Jeremy Swaman in the nets. Hamps Lindholm, 28, was acquired midseason to shore up the defence, and Marchand is still one of the league’s most dangerous scorers at 33.

But losing Bergeron would have marked the end of the most successful era in team history since the Big, Bad Bruins of Hall of Famers Bobby Orr, Phil Esposito, Gerry Cheevers and John Buchek.

“He is the backbone of our team. He is obviously the biggest part of our team,” Marchand said after his playoff exit. “So, yes, we want him to come back. No matter what happens, he earns the right to take whatever decision he wants and can take whatever time he wants. ,


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