BOSTON – The Boston Bruins experienced one of their worst weekends in their Original Six franchise history while dealing with the self-inflicted Mitchell Miller debacle. So it’s really not surprising that it took captain Patrice Bergeron to once again pull them out of it with both actions on the ice and his strong, character-based words off it.
The on-ice actions included Bergeron scoring the power play game-winner from his customary bumper spot in the third period to help push the Boston Bruins to a 3-1 win over the St. Louis Blues at TD Garden on Monday night. It was a perfect snap finish to the top corner after Brad Marchand had made a nice play gloving a stray puck before quickly moving it to the open man in the slot before the St. Louis penalty kill could react.
Patrice Bergeron from the bumper.
Bruins lead, 2-1. pic.twitter.com/xGd0P6aaWS
— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) November 8, 2022
“It’s always fitting that [Patrice] Bergeron comes through,” said Boston Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery. “There are not enough words that I can say about how much he means to the team culture and to the team productivity. He’s just a player that gets the job done night in and night out.”
It was yet another example of Bergeron stepping up when the Boston Bruins franchise really needed a positive moment after subjecting themselves to the Miller situation over the weekend, and the 37-year-old center did it all game long with seven shot on net, nine shot attempts, 13-of-23 faceoff wins and a strong, steady effort that kept putting pressure on the Blues.
Whether it’s collecting a hat trick to get to 400 career goals in his final game last season or executing the picture-perfect backcheck that helped the Boston Bruins win the 2019 Winter Classic against the Chicago Blackhawks at Notre Dame or simply leading by example every minute of every single day as Boston Bruins captain, Bergeron always meets the moment with perfection.
It had to have been an exhausting few days with his career-long employer under fire and the culture that he helped build in Boston with Zdeno Chara in peril based on a shaky decision very poorly executed by Boston Bruins hockey operations. But he stepped up and showed the way as the moral compass of the Black and Gold and said all the right words to Boston Bruins fans before walking the walk during Monday night’s game.
“It’s clear that I understand them,” said Bergeron about his message to an angry Boston Bruins fan base. “That being said, for us, nothing has changed as far as who we are as individuals, as a culture in this locker room, and what our core values are. As much as I understand them, we hear you and we feel like our values remain the same.
“[It’s about continuing to] stay true to my values, really. What it comes down to and what is important is to stand up for what you think is wrong. That situation, it goes back to what we’ve built here as an organization, as a team, as a locker room. That is to be inclusive and a locker room of respect and integrity.”
It’s a similar message that Bergeron relayed in Toronto last weekend when the Boston Bruins players had a passionate back-and-forth with B’s management about the Mitchell Miller situation, a conversation that helped precede Boston’s decision to part ways with the troubled 20-year-old defenseman prospect on Sunday night.
Suffice it to say, players like Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Nick Foligno let B’s higher-ups know the team was in lockstep against the move.
“In a way, yes. Like anything, it’s not like everyone had something to say [in the meeting]. But the general opinion was that” said Bergeron when asked if the entire team was against the signing when they learned of it on Friday. “I’m glad that we were heard, I guess.”
It’s Bergeron’s integrity and future Hall of Fame career built on making the right decisions and being in the right spots that’s earned him an exalted place in the Boston’s storied Original Six history, and once again it was on display for the entire hockey world to see as he lifted the Boston Bruins up from their weekend morass.