At age 37, Patrice Bergeron’s game didn’t decline one bit.
The 2003 second-round selection had just captured his sixth Selke Award given to the best two-way forward, tallying 58 points on 27 goals and 31 assists in 58 games. Jim Montgomery didn’t hesitate to deploy Bergeron in pivotal even strength and special teams situations.
Bergeron helped the Bruins re-write the regular season record books in 2022-23. The B’s now stand alone for the most points (135) and wins (65) in league history. Yet, Bergeron didn’t imagine that he’d encounter an extended timeline for another decision regarding his future after the Florida Panthers came back from a 3-1 first-round series deficit and handed the Bruins yet another bitter postseason exit.
The aftermath of the Game 7 overtime loss to Florida sunk in after Bergeron shared an embrace with his teammates as they left the TD Garden ice. While Bergeron would’ve likely performed at a peak level if he returned, the emotional hugs with the likes of fellow battle-tested vets David Krejci and Brad Marchand became the last on-ice image of his illustrious career.
Bergeron confirmed his retirement on Tuesday with a lengthy post thanking his teammates, family, friends and fans for the memories from his nearly two-decade-long career.
“I’ve always wanted and told myself that for me, I wanted to play the game at the highest level that I could, and felt like I wanted to kind of leave on top of my game,” Bergeron said during his retirement press conference on Wednesday.
Upon signing his one-year deal last August, Bergeron had leaned toward retiring after the 2022-23 campaign. But he didn’t make a concrete decision at that point, instead letting his 19th and final season play out.
Bergeron confirmed he encountered some second-guessing as he faced his second straight off-season pondering over his future. He defied father time on the ice, and continued his generosity off of it with his charitable work in the community.
But his body, while not broken down, encountered enough wear and tear from 19 seasons of hard-fought battles and rigorous training. In the end, Bergeron hung up the skates for good. He has absolutely no regrets about how his career panned out.
“The one thing I’ll definitely say is I left everything out there,” the now 38-year-old Bergeron said. “I have no regrets on anything.”
The Bruins will enter their centennial season searching for to fill Bergeron’s void on the top line. Come autumn; they’ll decide on their next captain, with Marchand, Charlie McAvoy and David Pastrnak among the notable candidates to don the ‘C’ above the spoked ‘B’ crest.
But Bergeron’s presence will last for generations. He’ll likely enter the Hockey Hall of Fame on his first ballot. He’ll indeed have his No. 37 raised to the Garden rafters down the road.
The images of Bergeron hoisting the Cup in 2011 will remain his career highlight. And there’s a plethora of other thrilling moments in the book of Bergeron’s career, from his Game 7 heroics against the Maple Leafs in 2013, to his courageous effort performing with a punctured lung in Game 6 against the Blackhawks a few months later, and his stellar two-way highlight reel full of faceoff wins, puck retrievals and more thrilling tallies like his Winter Classic marker at Notre Dame in 2019.
Bergeron ends his career with 1,040 points in 1,294 regular season games, six Selke Awards, two Olympic Gold medals and one Stanley Cup ring.
With his career closed, Bergeron solidifies himself as one the greatest Bruins ever. He became a franchise icon and never basked in the glory, showcasing class and humility throughout his legendary career.
Bergeron enjoyed every minute of his hockey life. He thanked a handful of his peers who helped make his career possible, including Martin Lapointe, who took Bergeron under his wing in 2003-04.
Lapointe treated Bergeron like a family member during his rookie season. And now the ‘son of Quebec’ is ready to step back and spend quality time with his family just a few weeks removed from welcoming the newest addition to the Bergeron clan.
“I have some catching up to do, and I’m looking forward to that,” Bergeron said. “And eventually, I’m sure there’s going to be a next chapter with things that I’ll want to do in the future.”
The humble Bergeron led by example, providing significant insight for his teammates. Perhaps he’ll return to the game in the future as a coach or a member of the front office.
In the meantime, Bergeron deserves to reap the benefits that come with retirement — both physically and mentally.
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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