“It’s tough when it ends like that, right?” Bergeron said following Boston’s season-ending loss in Raleigh. “It was [a moment] to share with them and thank them for battling, you know, together every day basically. It stings, and it’s not the feeling that you want. But with that being said, we did it together.”
With the Game 7 setback fresh in his mind, Bergeron received his first query on his future about three questions into his postgame press conference. On Monday, he faced several more inquiries inside Boston’s locker room at Warrior Ice Arena during the team’s breakup day.
Once again, the humble Bergeron wouldn’t definitively express his plans amid retirement speculation. He’ll take as much time as possible in the off-season, consoling his agent, family and others.
“I don’t know, to be honest with you,” Bergeron said on his timeline. “I think it’s more time, I guess. It’s only been a couple of days [since we were eliminated]. All I did was enjoy the family at home.
“I’m going to need some time to just think about a lot of things, and come up for myself and my family.”
One caveat that won’t factor into Bergeron’s decision: a potential new home.
“No,” Bergeron said about potentially continuing his career somewhere else. “I’ve been here my whole career, and obviously, it’s a special place for me. Like I said, it’s not on my mind right now. I just need to take time and regroup.”
His teammates likely breathed a sigh of relief upon hearing Bergeron’s desire to return to Boston if he continues his career.
They also know Bergeron’s career will end in the not too distant future. With that in mind, most of the 25 or so players made available to the media from Boston’s media relations department heaped more praise in Bergeron’s direction.
None more so than Brad Marchand. The veteran winger secured the left-wing spot next to Bergeron on Boston’s top-six during his rookie season in 2010-11.
The duo built cohesive on-ice chemistry through dazzling moments in the regular season and playoffs. Bergeron and Marchand are just as inseparable away from the rink.
Through the good times and the bad, Marchand couldn’t have asked for a better leader and friend.
“That started as a business relationship. He had to put up with me for the first couple of years. I got to watch the best in our game do his thing on and off the ice, and how he takes care of himself, trains and prepares, and how much he cares. Then we became really good friends,” Marchand said.
“I owe so much of what I’ve been able to accomplish to him, and not just because I’m playing on the same line with him, but also because of how great of a leader he is and how great of a person he is. To be able to learn day in and day out from a guy like that… I don’t think I understood how much it meant and how good it is to have a guy like that.”
Bergeron exemplified his kindness with each past and present member who ever donned the Spoked B. It didn’t matter if you were his linemate or a bottom-six cog like Chris Wagner, who texted with Bergeron once a month during his surprising stint in Providence this season. The captain had time to check in on anyone and everyone.
The Bruins will sorely miss Bergeron’s presence if and when he calls it a career. But they surely hope to have their captain back for another season.
The 2003 second-round selection hardly showed signs of decline during another Selke-worthy campaign in 2021-22, tallying 65 points in 73 games (25 goals, 40 assists) and winning more than 61 percent of his draws from the faceoff dot for the third time in his career.
The Bruins still need to upgrade their thin depth at center with or without Bergeron, who turns 37 in July. They’ll have a little over $5 million of projected salary cap space this off-season. Given the center conundrum and the even thinner prospect system, any potential playoff run in 2022-23 will revolve around Bergeron’s status.
Another potential decision on GM Don Sweeney and head coach Bruce Cassidy looms. Any changes with the front office and coaching staff may throw a wrinkle into Bergeron’s plans.
Given the thin depth at center and the even thinner prospect system, any potential playoff run in 2022-23 will revolve around Bergeron’s decision.
In the wake of Bergeron potentially retiring, the Bruins hope to carry over his illustrious legacy. And they know that day will come sooner than later.
“His legacy is just incredible. I’m so grateful with the lessons he’s given me and everyone in here. The culture he created is just so special,” defenseman Charlie McAvoy said. “I think the responsibility is on all of us and the guys that have been here… if he doesn’t come back, it’s on us to continue what he’s created and make sure that bond and that culture gets stronger.”
Tim Rosenthal serves as the Managing Editor of Bruins Daily. He started contributing videos to the site in 2010 before fully coming on board during the Bruins' Stanley Cup run in 2011. His bylines over the last decade have been featured on Boston.com, FoxSports.com, College Hockey News, Patch and Inside Hockey. You can follow Tim on Twitter @_TimRosenthal.
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