Bergeron undecided on future after B stun

BOSTON — Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron said he was uncertain about his NHL future after Boston’s crushing overtime loss to the Florida Panthers on Sunday night.

Bergeron, 37, is an unrestricted free agent this summer. Bruins players had spoken openly about sending off Bergeron and fellow veteran center David Krejci, also 37, with a Stanley Cup victory. Bergeron has just completed its 19th season. Krejci, who is also a free agent, played 16 seasons.

“It hurts. You compete hard and you fight all year for it, so it’s tough,” Bergeron said. “I will take some time and talk with my family and then go from there. At the moment it is difficult to process anything. We are shocked and disappointed.”

That might be an understatement. The 2022-23 Bruins were the most successful regular season team in NHL history, setting league records for wins (65) and points (135) in a single season. They were favored to defeat the Panthers, a wild-card team, and at one point held a 3-1 series lead. But the Panthers rallied to force a Game 7, rallied to tie the game with a minute left in regulation, then eliminated the Bruins on an overtime goal from wing Carter Verhaeghe.

Bergeron missed the first four games of the series. Initially, the Bruins said he suffered from an illness that swept through their locker room. But ultimately, his absence was clarified as being due to injury. After Game 7, Bergeron revealed he was playing with a herniated disc in his back and said he was unsure about treatment in the offseason.

The Panthers won all three games Bergeron played in the series, including overtime wins in Games 5 and 7 in Boston.

After Boston was eliminated on Sunday night, Bergeron stood on the bench with his teammates, motionless, processing what had just happened. Finally, he motioned for the Bruins to join him at center ice to greet the fans at TD Garden. After that, Bergeron skated to the Bruins bench door and hugged each of his teammates as they left for the locker room.

Last in line was longtime teammate Brad Marchand. They hugged on the now empty rink, as Boston fans cheered in recognition of the touching moment.

“The friendship we’ve built and the relationship we have has been special. I hope it’s not the end, but it’s up to him. Whether he continues to play or not, our bond will last a lifetime,” says Marchand.

The Bruins winger said he will be forever indebted to what Bergeron did for him as a player and a person.

“He’s just, like, the perfect person on or off the ice. An incredible leader, so driven, an incredible family man, an amazing father and a great friend,” Marchand said. “It wore me out a lot. It really changed the way I approach my daily life and the way I approach the game. He allowed me to play alongside him for a long time. We were lucky to have him in this band for a long time. I tried to be like him and lead like he did. I will be forever grateful to him.

During his media availability after the series, David Pastrnak wore a hat with Krejci’s name on it. Both players hail from the Czech Republic, where Krejci played last season before joining the Bruins on a one-year contract. Krejci served as a friend and mentor to Pastrnak.

“I can’t say enough about them. Krejci is one of the best teammates I’ve ever had and one of my best friends. I will always be grateful for that,” he said.

Coach Jim Montgomery praised Bergeron throughout the season for his leadership and skill, helping Montgomery in his first season with Boston. When he was injured, Bergeron was in the coaching room helping with the Panthers’ game plan.

“It was an amazing experience just because of his awareness, his maturity, his ability to communicate, his ability to listen and what a great hockey player he is,” Montgomery said. “I learned a lot from him this year. I hope to learn more next year.”

Bergeron was asked if the stunning way the Bruins’ historic season ended might compel him to return for another Stanley Cup run with this team.

“Again, it hurts right now,” he said. “I’m going to have to take a step back and think about it with my family.”

#Bergeron #undecided #future #stun

Leave a Comment