BOSTON (AP) — The Boston Bruins’ motto this season might as well be: “Win one for Patrice.”
For the second straight year, the Bruins are heading into the season thinking it could be the last for captain Patrice Bergeron. Last year, he waited until the summer to decide to come back for another run; no one’s making any long-term plans this year, either.
“This is a real opportunity for our players to have a year with Patrice on the ice, our younger players, in particular, to learn from him and to be a teammate,” team CEO Charlie Jacobs said at the team’s media day on Monday. “He’s teaching our next generation of Boston Bruins players how to be Bruins, and that’s invaluable.”
A five-time Selke Award winner as the best two-way forward in the NHL, Bergeron led the Bruins to the 2011 Stanley Cup championship and two other trips to the finals in an 18-year career that will eventually end with his No. 37 in the TD Garden rafters. Although he scored 25 goals with 40 assists last season, at 37 years old he is certainly nearing the end.
But before he gets there, the Bruins want to add to his trophy case. With David Krejci returning from Czechia, the team has the feel of a band getting back together.
“I think this group in the locker room feels like something special can happen this year,” Bruins President Cam Neely said. “I think their teammates look at this and say this might be the last year we have the ability to play with these guys, so let’s take as much advantage as we can. That’s the feeling I get inside the locker room.”
The Bruins won 51 games last season – topping 100 points for the fourth time in four non-pandemic seasons. But they lost in the first round of the playoffs, and coach Bruce Cassidy was fired and replaced with Jim Montgomery.
The new coach has been impressed by Bergeron’s sway over the locker room, and how the future Hall of Famer always thinks of the team first.
For his part, Bergeron seemed uncomfortable serving as a rallying cry.
“I’ve always preached to do everything together, as a team. It’s always a ‘we’ and not an ‘I.’ Obviously, nothing changes,” he said. “There’s a (chance) to come out and show what we’re all about as a team and create something together. So that’s, that’s what I’m really focused on.
But his teammates are thinking about him.
“I’m really trying not to look at it as pressure. Like, as if this is the end,” defenseman Charlie McAvoy said. “But I try to echo this message to a lot of guys: just don’t blink. You want to enjoy every single second with them. You don’t know what the future holds for him or Krejci. Soak in every second, on the ice and off the ice.”
Also looming over the season is the contract status of David Pastrnak. Jacobs said the team will be aggressive trying to re-sign him; general manager Don Sweeney said the two sides have been talking almost every day and will continue even after the season begins.
“There isn’t any timeline on that,” he said. “We’re going to … see if we can find the finish line.”
Bergeron’s uncertain status hasn’t been a problem in the Pastrnak talks, Neely said.
“Obviously, a shot-first winger certainly wants to know who his centerman is going to be,” he said. “He knows that we’re in a good position this year. We’re here to show everybody that we’re not stripping this thing down. We’re going to continue to build on it.”
Also Monday, Mike Reilly, Nick Foligno and Chris Wagner all cleared waivers.