Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron is retiring, he announced Tuesday. What you need to know:
Bergeron, 38, was a lifelong Bruin. He was selected in the second round of the 2003 draft. In hindsight, Bergeron may have deserved to go No. 1 in the iconic class.
Bergeron finishes with 1,040 points in 1,294 games. He is No. 3 in team history in both categories, behind Hall of Famers Ray Bourque and Johnny Bucyk.
His best offensive season was in 2018-19. As a 33-year-old, Bergeron scored 32 goals and 47 assists for 79 points in 65 games.
Bergeron won the Selke Trophy as the league’s top defensive forward in 2023, 2022, 2017, 2015, 2014 and 2012.
A statement from Patrice Bergeron.
📰: https://t.co/UWDGPWtDX9 pic.twitter.com/XNrczEVnJO
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) July 25, 2023
The Athletic’s instant analysis:
Why does he not want to play anymore?
Team doctors informed Bergeron that rest and recovery, not surgery, would be suitable to address the herniated disc in his back that sidelined him for four games in Round 1 of the postseason against the Panthers. He was otherwise healthy. Bergeron was No. 3 in team scoring in 2022-23 with 58 points. He won his sixth Selke.
But Bergeron decided he did not need to add to his 1,294-game NHL total. The 38-year-old exits at or near the top of his game as one of the NHL’s premier two-way centers. Bergeron feels fulfilled with his on-ice accomplishments, which include one Stanley Cup (2011) and gold medals at the Olympics (2014, 2010) and World Junior Championship (2005).
His wife Stephanie gave birth to their son Felix, the couple’s fourth child, earlier this summer.
“It wasn’t a decision that I came to lightly,” Bergeron wrote in his announcement. “But after listening to my body, and talking with my family, I know in my heart that this is the right time to step away from playing the game I love.”
What is Bergeron’s legacy?
If his record-setting Selke collection is the metric, Bergeron leaves as the best defensive forward in NHL history. Coaches Mike Sullivan, Dave Lewis, Claude Julien, Bruce Cassidy and Jim Montgomery took turns deploying Bergeron in shutdown situations. Bergeron has credited Julien as making him most aware of the importance of defensive thoroughness. Bergeron was the No. 46 player on The Athletic’s NHL99 list.
Under Cassidy, Bergeron shifted more of his game toward offensive optimization. He mastered the bumper position on the Bruins’ No. 1 power-play unit as a multi-threat weapon. Bergeron’s signature move was a rapid half-slapper from the high slot.
His late-career offensive transition helped Bergeron finish with 1,040 career points. He is No. 2 in postseason team scoring with 128 points, tied with Brad Marchand and David Krejci behind Bourque.
Off the ice, Bergeron defined himself as one of the organization’s best-ever leaders. He was first named alternate captain in 2006-07. He held that title through 2019-20, Zdeno Chara’s final season in Boston.
Once Chara, the former captain, signed with the Capitals, Bergeron took over the wheel with Marchand at his side. In 2022-23, Bergeron made his voice heard when he expressed his reservations regarding the signing of Mitchell Miller.
What does this mean for the Bruins?
Bergeron’s exit, coupled with Krejci’s uncertain future, leaves the Bruins short-handed at center. At the same time, the Bruins must carry a $4.5 million overage penalty in 2023-24 because of Bergeron’s and Krejci’s performance bonuses.
Pavel Zacha will most likely be the top-line center, with David Pastrnak as his right wing. Charlie Coyle and Trent Frederic should also expect more shifts in the middle. Frederic, a restricted free agent, is scheduled for an arbitration hearing on Aug. 1.
Lower in the lineup, general manager Don Sweeney signed Morgan Geekie, Patrick Brown, Jesper Boqvist and Jayson Megna via unrestricted free agency. All can play center. Prospects John Beecher, Marc McLaughlin and Georgii Merkulov are among the pivots who could push for NHL employment as third- or fourth-line centers.
Who will replace Bergeron as captain?
Pastrnak, 27, and Charlie McAvoy, 25, are the Bruins’ long-term leaders. But Marchand, 35, is the top candidate to succeed his close friend and linemate. The left wing has two years remaining on his contract and has been the No. 1 alternate captain since 2020-21.
(Photo: Gregory Shamus / Getty Images)
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