A month ago, Boston Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron made it clear that rather than sign a contract extension beyond this season, he is going to play out the final season of his contract this season and see where he’s at next July.
“I’m going to play out this year and then talk about [contract matters] after,” Bergeron said back on September 8. “It’s something that a lot of people have asked me this summer, and the way that I approach it this year is to just concentrate on this year. I have a year left on my contract and I think it would be useless for me to think about the [long term] future. I want to create something special. We want to work toward winning a Stanley Cup. I know everybody says that, but that’s definitely our goal as a team. I think it’s better to be in that group of [playoff] teams and I think that’s where my focus is right now.”
On Wednesday, prior to a 4-3 overtime loss for the Boston Bruins in their final preseason tuneup, Bergeron met with the media and explained that decision a bit more. Bergeron may be entering his 18th season but he’s still playing like a younger player in his prime and not a 36-year-old veteran headed into the twilight of his career. After three straight seasons of scoring 30 goals or more, Bergeron had 23 lamplighters and 25 assists in 54 games in the shortened 56-game 2021 season. He clearly has still got game but more importantly, the passion is still there. Until it isn’t, Bergeron has no plans of hanging up the skates.
“It’s the same,” the Boston Bruins captain said. “Every time I’m away from hockey, I miss it. I want to go back to it. I want to read about it. I want to learn some things. It’s part of my DNA. That passion is definitely still there. The day that it won’t, it’ll be the day to stop doing this. It’s important to do it for a reason and have that drive and will to get up and better yourself and help your team as much as possible.”
That’s music to the collective ears of the Boston Bruins and his head coach’s ears. While Bruce Cassidy doesn’t have to lean on Bergeron as much as when he took over for Claude Julien halfway through the 2016-17 season, Cassidy knows he still has a skilled, player-coach in Bergeron there when he needs him.
“I hope he’s here for infinite,” Cassidy said Wednesday. “He’s a terrific player, still at the elite level. Terrific leader. Terrific person. All those things. To have him around every day is awesome for a guy like me. I’ve been around a little bit now, but early on it was that much more help to me. It still is, on a daily basis. I’m just a little more comfortable than I was five years ago. Boy, he made me feel comfortable doing my job. I’ll be forever grateful for that. Not every guy is like that around the league. They’re going to test you. With Bergy, there’s instant respect he gives people and expects the same in return. It’s a great approach.”