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Countdown To Boston Bruins Camp: Patrice Bergeron

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From now until the beginning of training camp, Boston Hockey Now is profiling players who will be on, or have a chance to be on, the 2022-23 Boston Bruins. Today’s player: Patrice Bergeron.

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What Happened Last Year: Bergeron, 37, finished with 25 goals and 65 points in 73 games and won his NHL-record fifth Selke Trophy as the league’s best defensive player proving that he still had plenty left in the tank during his 18th NHL season. Bergeron centered Brad Marchand per usual, but they also added on Jake DeBrusk as their right winger in a combination that worked well for the Black and Gold from the middle of the season moving forward.

Bergeron is the rare player that does all the little things well, plays winning hockey and is also a darling of the fancy stats crew while posting very good CORSI and puck possession numbers. He may have slowed by a half-step and it remains to be seen if he could play at the highest level for two months during an extended playoff run at his age, but Father Time is about the only thing that’s going to win a 50/50 battle with No. 37.

Bergeron finished three goals and seven points in the playoffs as well, and enjoyed some iconic moments during the year whether it was dropping four goals on the Red Wings in November or finishing the regular season with a massive game to hit the impressive 400-goal mark for his NHL career.

Bergeron now has hit 20 goals in 11 of his last 12 seasons, with the only time he came short the lockout-shortened year of 2013, and is closing in on 1,000 career points in his 1, 216 career games entering what could be his final season.

Questions To Be Answered This Season: The only question about Bergeron at this point is how long he wants to keep playing. He showed last season that he can still be at his very best on most nights and finished with strong numbers across the board before producing at a point-per-game level during the Stanley Cup playoffs.

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Bergeron took all summer to think about the pros and cons of continuing his NHL career and ultimately opted to take a team-friendly one-year deal that will allow him to revisit things on an annual basis. This coming season may very well be his last, but much of it may depend on his level of play and even more will be about the chances that the Boston Bruins have to win the Stanley Cup. He’s really in the driver’s seat as one of the best players in the history of the Original Six franchise, he’s made enough to support his entire family for the rest of their lives and he stands as one of the best two-way centers of all-time and one of the most respected winners in his entire generation of NHL players.

Bergeron’s legacy is secure, so the million dollar question is whether he’ll want to keep going beyond this year and whether there’s any way possible for him to add another Stanley Cup to it.

In Their Words: “It gives other guys a chance to find that voice, to find that competitiveness and the drive to take on a bigger role, and that’s what you want for guys on this team. It’s going to be an adjustment for me. The two of us? It’s become second nature at this point. You just read and react, and you pretty much know where the other one is going to be on the ice at all times. It does make things easier [when Marchand is there], but that being said you are playing with some great players and [that have] a lot of talent. It’s for me to adjust, but it’s also for whoever I’m playing with talk and communicate to make the adjustment as seamless as possible.” –Patrice Bergeron, on playing without Brad Marchand until about Thanksgiving as he recovers from double-hip surgeries this summer.

Overall Outlook: Bergeron is the force that holds everything together right now for the Boston Bruins from a leadership standpoint, from a winning culture standpoint and from the sheer ability of a player to be a No. 1 center at the NHL level. There is nobody in the pipeline of talent organizationally that is going to replace him when he’s gone, and the Boston Bruins will be hard-pressed to find anybody that can match the respect level that teammates have for him.

So as always, it’s time to enjoy Bergeron while he’s still playing because it may not be for that much longer just as other Boston sports icons like Tom Brady and David Ortiz have moved on as well. This summer’s uncertainty with his playing status should have been a wakeup call that No. 37 won’t be doing it for much longer, so Boston hockey fans need to savor the final days of his Black and Gold career while they’re still happening.

Joe Haggerty has covered the Boston Bruins and the NHL for 18 years with NBC Sports Boston, WEEI.com, the Boston Metro and the Woburn Daily Times, and currently serves as lead Bruins reporter and columnist for Boston Hockey Now. Haggs always strives to capture the spirt of the thing any way that he can.

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