The Boston Bruins and their fans got some potentially great news late Thursday night. According to longtime Bruins beat reporter Joe McDonald of the Worcester Telegram and Gazette, Boston Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron will be signing an incentive laden, one-year contract with the Bruins.
Per McDonald, Patrice Bergeron will have a contract similar to the one former Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara signed with the Bruins prior to the 2019-20 regular season, his final one donning the Spoked B. That likely means a base salary and incentives in the range of the $6.8 million Bergeron earned last season. Bergeron just completed the final season of an eight-year, $55 million contract.
After the Bruins were eliminated from the 2022 Stanley Cup playoffs with a 3-2 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals on May 14, Bergeron, 36, told reporters that he was seriously contemplating retirement and would need time to decide his future. Then on June 5, after the longtime Bruins center won a record fifth Selke Trophy, Bergeron told the media that he was still very much undecided on whether or not to play a 19th season in the NHL.
“I still think I have a lot of time in front of me, I guess, to make that decision,” Bergeron said almost three weeks ago. “I want to make sure that I take all the time that I need to make the right one. Right now, I haven’t really had time to think about it.”
After spending the last 18 years in the NHL, Bergeron has never been an unrestricted free agent, and now that he is, he wants to breathe and handle the life decision properly.
“My whole career I’ve had contract extensions or I’ve had long-term contracts,” Bergeron said. “I would head into the summers I guess with that in the back of my mind, meaning that I know what I’m doing next year and all that stuff. And now I’m 36 and I don’t have a contract and I can actually take a step back for the first time in my career, the first time in my life that I can just reflect on what I do want looking forward for the future.”
In that same media availability, Bergeron announced that he had a procedure done to repair a tendon in his right elbow the previous week.
“It’s something I dealt with for probably the last two years, a little less maybe,” Bergeron said. “I spoke to the doctors and at some point I had to get it fixed.”
However, the Boston Bruins future hall of famer did say it wouldn’t affect the start of the season for him as it had an expected 10-12 week recovery.
“It only delayed my decision-making process,” said Bergeron.
Boston Bruins general manager Don Sweeney and Team President Cam Neely have been steadfast in their faith that their captain would return and it appears their faith has paid off. They were also respectful of his decision-making process but did stress that they have some major roster decisions to deal with and were hoping a Bergeron decision would come sooner rather than later.
“He understands that we have decisions to make coming up here. So, with him in the lineup is different than without him,” Neely said in his end of the season presser on May 19. “Obviously, the year that he had, I hope he feels good about his game still, because he had a pretty damn good year. So hopefully he’s mentally prepared to have another one. You’ve got to give him some time to digest all that and talk with his family about it. But we have decisions to make coming up as well.”
Now the team will try and figure out who will be Bergeron’s fifth coach of his career. On Thursday, an NHL source close to the situation told Boston Hockey Now that Sweeney and Cam Neely were set to narrow down their coaching candidate list next week. So far, BHN has confirmed that former Providence Bruins head coach and Seattle Kraken assistant coach Jay Leach, former Boston University and New York Rangers head coach David Quinn, former University of Denver and Dallas Stars head coach Jim Montgomery, current Boston Bruins assistant coach and Colorado head coach Joe Sacco, and former Providence Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs assistant coach Spencer Carbery have interviewed for the job.
The Bruins also interviewed another unknown candidate Thursday and were set to bring in 1-2 more potential coaches on Friday.