Bergeron 'Does Everything the Way You Should'
BostonBruins.com - Patrice Bergeron has never been a flashy player; he never will be. That's not the alternate captain's style.
He's a calm, gentlemanly anchor for the Bruins off the ice, while being a tenacious two-way leader on the ice. And he has been that way for nearly a decade in the spoked-B. Unfaltering.
The alternate captain's last playoff overtime goal came in 2004. It was his first season in the NHL.
"He's a 30-year-old in an 18-year-old's body,'' a teammate would say, en route to the 2-1 OT win over the Montreal Canadiens.
But, on May 13, 2013, in Game Seven against the Leafs, it was the 27-year-old Bergeron's second career overtime goal that won't ever leave his memory.
The first goal of the night came with just 51 seconds left in regulation, before his tally just 6:05 into extra time lifted the black omen that had started seeping into the Garden crowd.
On Wednesday afternoon, he was sitting in the locker room, holding an iPad that replayed his goal over and over, with different angles, various views, as he broke down the game-winner for bostonbruinsTV.
"It was a very special feeling, obviously, the crowd went crazy, but I went crazy as well, the whole team did," said Bergeron, as he described the emotions racing through him right after the goal, when he uncontrollably jumped up and down, yelled, smiled, hugged his teammates.
The next phrase he spoke came with a reverence - maybe for the game of hockey, or for the respect for what his goal meant to the spoked-B and to the Boston faithful.
"It was something ver-y, ver-y, special."
"And fortunate enough, I was in the right place at the right time."
"We hadn’t seen a performance like [Monday] night in a long, long time, if ever, just clutch performance what he did," said General Manager Peter Chiarelli, of Bergeron.
"Game in, game out he does the little things. Watching him carry the puck [Monday] night, he had a little extra drive. You could just see it in him," added Chiarelli, perking up, and becoming candidly animated talking about his alternate captain.
"He just, he had that extra drive, and you could see it. You can see the fire in his eyes. You can see him on the bench. You can see the plays that he was making. He was always in on that forecheck - so he was special, and he’s just a reliable, terrific player. He’s reliable, and he’s got oodles of talent, and the two-way play. He’s a special player."
Anyone who has followed the Bruins and the path of Bergeron - media, fans, coaches, hockey players alike - already know that 'Bergy' is a special player. And what makes him especially admirable is the adversity he's had to overcome with concussions since the first one knocked him down during the 2007-08 season. Even this season, he had a scare, and a concussion that kept him out six games.
But even with all of his big-time moments and 'comebacks,' the stage he was on during Game Seven took him to an entirely new level.
"It's always something that you thrive on, is to show up in big moments," said Bergeron, when asked after the Bruins' practice Wednesday if he would want to be "known" for performing well in big games like Monday's comeback. "I guess everyone wants to win, so when you're winning, that's all that matters at the end of the day."
On Wednesday morning, it was announced that Bergeron was nominated for his second straight Frank J. Selke Trophy, given annually "to the forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game." He won it last year, in 2012.
"I can tell you right now, I would be extremely disappointed and would’ve been vocal about it had he not been [nominated]," Coach Julien told reporters. "This guy here is so good at both ends of the ice, and he keeps proving it year after year."
"There are not too many guys in this league that can do what Patrice does."
"You saw him scoring those goals the other night. But you also see him - every year, we talk about Zdeno playing against top players on other teams - so does he [Bergeron] for the most part. At the end of every year, he’s always a plus player, so that tells you a lot about the utility and how valuable this guy is to our team."
In fact, Bergeron averaged 25 shifts per game during the 2013 season - on par with the B's veteran defensemen. His 1,056 shifts in 2013 fell below just four Bruins - Zdeno Chara, Dennis Seidenberg, Andrew Ference and Johnny Boychuk. (Maybe he should be nominated for the Norris, too…)
So often, you see players like Bergeron, or Krejci earlier in the Toronto series, or even Tuukka Rask, labeled as "underrated."
The seasoned veteran smiled and took a moment to collect his thoughts.
"That question you gave me, I think the way I would answer it, you guys probably - the media - make him underrated, you know? Because maybe he's not that flashy, he doesn't score goals, beat three guys, but he does everything the way you should do [it], offensively and defensively."
"That kind of person is not very flashy, if you know what I mean. Fans or media want to see something great, but those guys who make something great, on the other side, they are making a lot mistakes."
It's remarkable, really, how Bergeron doesn't show too much flash, but he has a whole lot of spark. He has his hands in nearly every aspect of the game - most just don't realize it at the time.
And Bergeron hardly ever makes mistakes. His only fault may be that he is too hard on himself.
"You know what, I have high expectations of myself. I’m probably my hardest critic," said Bergeron, who had wanted to contribute more offensively before he broke through in the Game Seven win.
"Whatever pressure is outside of me, I don’t really worry about it because I know I bring higher expectations than anyone else."
For the center, the expectations he places on himself partly stems from something previously engrained in the greats that wore the spoked-B before him.
"You take a lot of pride just to be a Bruin. With all the history behind wearing that jersey is something very special and I take pride in every night that I step on the ice," Bergeron told reporters after a Wednesday practice, just a day and a half after Game Seven.
"I think it's something that you need to appreciate every time you're in this dressing room or you're representing the team."
And then came a very candid sequence with Bergeron and a handful of media gathered around him.
A reporter began to ask, 'Have you allowed yourself to ever think about being one of the rare guys to spend his entire career in one place, maybe see your name and numb---'
"Noo," Bergeron quickly remarked, as he looked down and gave a smile, while the reporter finished his question, 'maybe see your name and number up in the rafters?'
"No, I'm not thinking about that. That's the last thing that I'm thinking about, to be honest with you. To finish my career here would be great but that's about all I'm thinking about."
He laughed and humbly dismissed the notion. Because for Bergeron, there was still much to do, much to accomplish - beginning with Game One against the New York Rangers on Thursday night.
'But, if you were to leave a legacy in Boston, what would you want it to be?'
"I don't know," Bergeron said, as another brief smile broke out. "I guess winning is always the best legacy you can leave to a team and to a city. So that's what we're working on every time we step on the ice."
"That's all you need to worry about, is winning. Right now, it's about the New York Rangers and nothing else. I don't really look too far ahead."