Veteran Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron and the Bruins core leaders sent a stern message to their younger teammates on what they expect from each other as Phase 3 of the NHL Return To Play plan and training camp kicked off Monday. A day after multiple Montreal Canadiens tested positive for COVID19 and on the same day the Pittsburgh Penguins were forced to isolate nine players because of secondary COVID19 contact, Bergeron let it be known what will be most important if he and his teammates hope to not follow suit.
“Professionalism is going to be huge,” Bergeron said. “We need to rely on everyone for this thing to work. Right now, in phase 3, you’re allowed to go home and we’re not going to babysit you on your whereabouts and all that so it’s trusting one another and making sure that everyone is doing the right thing and is committed for this thing to work and move forward. I think that’s the most important thing, to be professionals about it, be smart and use common sense obviously.”
As some of the world, specifically, the United States, struggle to come to grips with the new normal, Bergeron, his teammates, and the entire NHL are hoping they can provide some sort of normalcy and a distraction for their fans.
“Normalcy is something we’re all seeking through this pandemic and it was hard for everyone,” Bergeron said in a Zoom media call Monday. “I’m talking about just life in general. It was hard for a lot of people and it affected a lot of people in different ways. It’s one step toward a little bit more normalcy, I guess.”
As the Bruins veteran pointed out, one of the keys to that will be for the Bruins to achieve that, and success on the ice will be for him and his teammates to find their new and happy normal in Phase 3 and when they arrive in the Eastern Conference Hub City of Toronto on July 26. While Bergeron feels as comfortable as can be already, he knows some of his teammates will need some time to not just acclimate themselves on the ice but also the safety measures that they need to maintain to get to Phase 4 and the Stanley Cup playoffs.
“For me, I was a little more used to it because I was here for Phase 2,” Bergeron said. “So like some of the things we did today, obviously all the protocol and preventions that we’re taking. …especially the masks being worn at all times until you get to the ice or if you’re working out. Workouts are only in small groups of 12 guys. Otherwise yeah, you’re wearing your mask often and trying to keep distance as much as possible when you can. So, it is a little bit different than what we’re used to but that being said, we’re pretty happy to be back and getting a little bit of normalcy in our lives and getting back as a team. It was a nice feeling. Right now, everyone’s trying to get adjusted to the protocol and it’s just about getting a feel for what we’re going to have to expect I guess going forward.”
Bergeron has made it clear to his teammates that not only are the doors of team management and the coaching staff always open to talk but so are he and the rest of the veteran core. To them, it’s important to know where each player stands mentally and emotionally as this ramp up here.
“For sure there will be conversations now and we’re going to have to talk about experiences the last four months and what we can expect going forward and all that stuff,” Bergeron said. “So it’s going to be fun and it’s going to be great to interact. In a way, once we leave in two weeks and we’re in the bubble, we’re going to have a better chance to interact and be with each other even more so we can open up more and get to each other on different levels. Conversation and trying to understand one another and where we’re coming from and how we’ve felt throughout this whole pandemic is going to be important.”