BostonBruins.com - Patrice Bergeron is currently under contract with the Boston Bruins until the 2013-14 season. But, as Bergeron well knows and has voiced countless times, he wants to be a Bruin for life.
With a possible contract extension on the horizon, the center said he is "very confident" that he and Boston will be able to work something out; he's just not sure exactly how long it's going to take.
"It would mean a lot," he said, when he spoke with media on the morning of Tuesday, July 2, during his season-end availability. Bergeron had missed the team's break-up day on June 26 when he was still in the hospital recovering from a punctured lung, broken rib and torn cartilage (along with a separate shoulder), all byproducts of the Stanley Cup Final.
"That's the goal since the beginning," he added, on playing out the rest of his NHL career as a member of the Bruins. "It's a team that believed in me when I was 18 and when I was coming up and now, like I said before, it’s my home."
"I love the city, love the people and definitely the organization and my teammates. So I definitely want to stay here, and hopefully we can work something out."
Bruin for a Decade, Bergeron Epitomizes Spoked-B
Bergeron's attachment to Boston began in June 2003, when he heard his name called by the Bruins at the NHL Draft, 45th overall in the second round. He was 18, but teammates would say he acted much beyond his age.
Ten years later, and still just a mere 27 years old, the respect from his teammates has only grown further.
"He’s the perfect human," Bergeron's teammate, Shawn Thornton, had said with a smile, back on June 18, after the center was receiving media attention for a feisty, defensive Game 3 performance in the Stanley Cup Final.
"He really is though. Ever since I’ve been here, he’s been beyond his years. He’s a very mature individual. He’s obviously one of our leaders, and arguably one of the best two-way players in the game. I think we could sit here all day and talk about how great he is."
Bergeron didn't only battle through injuries in the Stanley Cup Final, he's battled concussions for most of his career, something that caused him to miss nearly the entire 2007-08 season.
"It shows his character to come back and be even better," his linemate, Brad Marchand, had said during the Stanley Cup Final. "He’s worked extremely hard to come back and be the player he is today. You can see in the room, on the ice, he always wants to be better, he always want to improve."
The center's head coach, Claude Julien, has seen him grow throughout the seven years he's coached him.
"For a coach, you know exactly what you're going to get from him every game," Juilen said (on June 18), a few days before Bergeron would show his character even more, battling through his injuries to try and help his team. "His work ethic - everything that comes with it is second to none. He's often used as a good example because he deserves it."
And if the admiration from his coach, along with General Manager Peter Chiarelli, President Cam Neely, Owner Jeremy Jacobs, his teammates and fans is an indication of anything, it's that Bergeron epitomizes what it means to be a Boston Bruin.
"With what Patrice went through to play Game 6 and then what happened to him during Game 6, certainly speaks volumes of Patrice as an athlete, as a human being, who has a compete level we like to have wearing our jersey," Neely said, during his season-ending media availability. "He’s been a big fabric of our organization."
Statistics can often stitch the fabric of a player's career. For Bergeron, that would include 153 goals and 280 assists for 433 points in 579 regular-season games wearing the spoked-B. In 83 postseason games, he has scored 20 goals (9 coming in the 2013 playoffs and 6 of those goals coming in the Stanley Cup Final series of 2011 and 2013), to go along with 37 assists for 57 points.
Bergeron finished the shortened, 48-game campaign in 2013, ranked second in assists (22) on the Bruins, tied for third in points (32), and tied for fourth in goals (10). But where he excels the most - and displays an immense about of pride - in in the faceoff circle, where he led the NHL during both the regular season (62.1%) and playoffs (). The two-way center and former Selke Award winner has put up plus-minus ratings of +24, +36 and +20 in his past three seasons.
But still, if you set aside the stats, read between the lines, go into all of the nooks and crannies, you'll find a player that has battled through more than most (especially with his concussion history), has stayed true to himself and abilities as a player, and has grown into a leader for the Bruins, on and off the ice. That character is something stat lines won't show.
When Bergeron won the NHL's King Clancy Memorial Trophy in June - given to the player who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and who has made a significant humanitarian contribution to his community - he said he likes to lead by example.
"Just help whoever I can and show it by example and just by working as hard as I can every time I have a chance. And also, speak up when I have to and feel like it's a good time for that."
"I've had a lot of help throughout the years to grow in that a lot but obviously, you learn and get that experience as the years go on and that's how I learned to become a better leader, with the experience I got and people I met over the years - guys like Martin Lapointe my first couple of years, but also Mark Recchi in the last few years."
"And now, I'm just trying to be myself and speak from the heart."
As voiced this week, it's his love for the Bruins and Boston, on and off the ice, that has made it easy for him to never leave.
But back in the playoffs, after Bergeron scored the game-tying goal and overtime-winner in the historic Game 7 comeback over Toronto, he voiced his admiration for the history of the spoked-B.
"You take a lot of pride just to be a Bruin," he had said. "With all the history behind wearing that jersey, it's something very special and I take pride in every night that I step on the ice. I think it's something that you need to appreciate every time you're in this dressing room or you're representing the team."
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