The sour taste of losing in Game 7 of the the Stanley Cup Final will never go away. The pain of that loss is magnetized even more for two Boston Bruins as the hockey world ascends on Las Vegas for the annual NHL Awards. Patrice Bergeron, who is nominated for the Selke Trophy for the 8th consecutive season, as one of the games best two-way forwards, told the media this year has a different feel to it.
“It’s always a huge honor like I’ve said in the past,” Bergeron told the media on Tuesday. “Happy to be here and this year is a little different, I’m not going to lie – with the way that the season ended. It hasn’t been a week yet. Still hard to turn the page that way.”
Clearly the loss to St. Louis in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final remains with Bergeron. It has been a week since the Bruins season came to an end in front of their home fans. As Bergeron told the media on Tuesday, the toughest part about being in Las Vegas for the awards is the fact he has to continuously answer questions about what happened in Game 7.
“I’m just trying to slowly turn the page,” Bergeron told the media. “You have to try to see what can be better, what has to stay the same, individually, as a team. That’s what you’re trying to do. I think it’s still early to say that all that homework has been done on my side. I think that the toughest part is to be here to be honest with you and being asked the questions. I think that when we’re done with the [NHL] Awards I’m going to be able to kind of turn the page with what has happened and look forward to a great offseason, be ready for a great season next year.”
Bergeron is not the only one who feels the awards are a little bittersweet. Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney, who had high praise for Bergeron, is nominated for the GM of the Year Award echoed Bergeron’s comments about how it was an honor and privilege to be in Las Vegas for the award ceremony despite the circumstances that just happened less than a week ago.
“It’s obviously a privilege to being acknowledged from your peer group,” Sweeney told the media. “A lot of work goes in. Obviously, it shares a reflection of the organization overall – the support you get throughout. It’s a little bit hard for us as the Boston Bruins to be fully on board and celebrating and such. But like I said, it’s a testament to the organization overall to be here.”
The Bruins had a remarkable season as they finished second in the Atlantic Division behind the Tampa Bay Lightning and with the moves Sweeney made adding depth to the roster at the trade deadline allowed the Bruins to go further than even their own Jeremy Jacobs imagined they would.
“We’ve done a good job of trying to vet out what type of player we’d like to bring into our locker room and the situations to give them an opportunity and hopefully they just assimilate,” said Sweeney. “Joakim Nordstrom, Chris Wagner and then we made two moves at the deadline. Testament to the players themselves, first of all. Both from the players coming in as well as the players receiving them. And our coaching staff can’t go unrecognized to do what they do to get those players up to speed. And then you get a total buy in. That’s really what a lot of our success was this year.”
The Bruins were committed to the goals brought forth by the coaching staff and that was reflected in Bergeron when he took the reins right before Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final as he delivered an impactful speech to his teammates. Without those teammates Bergeron would not be in this position to win his fifth Selke Trophy. He along with David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand formed one of the best lines in hockey which allowed Bergeron to grow as a player, but stayed true to his roots as a good defensive forward. Not only does Bergeron get praise from his teammates but his peers as he recognized as on the best face-off men in the league.
“That being said, just here to enjoy the moment and it’s always a reflection on how your team has performed. My teammates and line mates and teammates have helped me and I’m here on behalf of them.”
Bergeron is tied with legendary Montreal Canadiens forward Bob Gainey with four Selke Trophies and a win on Wednesday night would give his sole possession of first place. Even though Bergeron grew up a Quebec Nordiques fan, he looked up to Gainey for the way he played the game.
“I didn’t get a chance to see him play live but I’ve watched some highlights and videos and I’ve had a chance to meet him a few times,” Said Bergeron. “He’s obviously an amazing player but just a great role model and a humble person. I think that to me that’s values that are very important to me.”
While the ultimate goal is to win the Stanley Cup, a win by Bergeron and/or Sweeney on Wednesday night would cap off the season on a higher note.
The NHL Awards will begin at 8 pm ET, and can be viewed on NBCSN and Sportsnet.