While nothing has been signed on the dotted line, all signs continue to point toward captain Patrice Bergeron returning with the Boston Bruins to play next year for a 19th NHL season.
Bergeron has had discussions with Boston Bruins GM Don Sweeney in the last couple of weeks that have clearly been encouraging in nature, but only that he’s “considering” playing and hasn’t officially made any decisions at this point.
“My conversations with Patrice have gone well. His recovery has gone well. I suspect coming out of the draft and headed into free agency, he’ll be in a really good place,” said Sweeney, during his media availability in Montreal ahead of the 2022 NHL Draft. “We’re excited that he’s considering playing and moving forward with what we think is a positive mindset. That’s for him to declare when he’s ready to do that.
“He’s checking off a lot of boxes that give us a strong indication [he’s going to return], but until he decides to go public [with a decision] that’s for him to hold onto.”
A Worcester Telegram and Gazette report from a couple of weeks ago indicated that Bergeron had definitively decided to play next season and was circling on an incentive-laden one-year deal with the Black and Gold, but those reports came ahead of discussions between the Boston Bruins and their captain in recent weeks following a scheduled vacation for the Bergeron family.
Bergeron’s last public statements were that he was still taking his time to make sure he could make the “all in” commitment to be the captain of an NHL team at a time when balancing hockey career and family surely aren’t as easy as they once were.
“My whole career I’ve had contract extensions or I’ve had long-term contracts,” said Patrice Bergeron. “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.”
Clearly the Boston Bruins want to have Bergeron back coming off a 25-goal, 65-point campaign where he still was able to excel at the No. 1 center spot and captured his NHL-record fifth Selke Trophy while leading the league in faceoff win percentage. The Boston Bruins would have been left with a gaping hole at the vital center position if Bergeron did indeed opt to retire, so one would suspect that they’ve been given pretty solid indications at this point to count on No. 37 coming back while they formulate their offseason plan.