As the seconds of the Bruins season ticked away and the final buzzer sounded, many New England hockey fans were faced with a question they shouldn’t have asked in 18 years: Would Patrice Bergeron be back with the team next season?
The scene at the end of Boston’s 3-2 Game 7 loss to the Hurricanes on Saturday was Bergeron punching his chest with his fist and tapping his teammates on the chest. Some hugs and hugs were mixed in too. It wasn’t uncommon for the captain — or any captain for that matter — but at age 36 and on the road to unlimited free choice, the moment played out more like a goodbye than a “We’ll get them next year.”
Patrice Bergeron gives the entire roster hugs as they exit the ice. pic.twitter.com/dN6qOwSP11
Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) May 14, 2022
Even prior to the decisive Game 7, Bergeron sounded like someone dipping into what could be his last run with his team.
“Enjoy the training, enjoy everything that is going to unfold during the whole thing,” Bergeron told reporters in a video provided by the team. “Those are beautiful memories too.”
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Bergeron was asked if he wanted to retire after Boston’s loss in Game 7, but he said it was “too early, too raw” to make a decision.
Now Bergeron has all the time in the world to think. The Bruins are entering the off-season and they are likely to expect an answer about their captaincy’s future sooner rather than later.
Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said after the game that he hopes Bergeron will return. He and many Bruins fans probably share the same sentiment.
Bruins Bruce Cassidy on when Patrice Bergeron retires: “He means so much to this franchise. We all want him back. Only he can answer that. I have no idea. I haven’t discussed it with him. He will make that decision moving forward to go.”
Shawn Hutcheon (@ShawnHutcheon) May 14, 2022
Brad Marchand expressed the same sentiment as his bank boss when it came to Bergeron’s future.
“No matter what happens, he has earned the right to make whatever decision he wants and take the time he needs” Marchand said in the press conference after the game† “I think time will tell.”
Whether we’ve seen the last of Bergeron remains unclear. What we do know is that he has had a great career.
He ranks third in Bruins franchise history with 1,216 games played, fourth with 400 goals and fourth with 582 assists. He is also fourth in points with 982, behind only Hall of Famers Phil Esposito, John Bucyk and Ray Bourque.
He helped his home country, Canada, win gold medals at the 2004 IIHF World Championship, the 2005 World Junior Championship and the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
A four-time Selke Trophy winner, Bergeron has set the standard for a two-way player.
Saturday night may have been the last time we saw the number 37 in a Bruins uniform, but hockey fans around the world can revel in getting 18 seasons of excellence from one of the most stylish players to ever lace them up.
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