If Boston Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron has played his final game, Norwood, MA native Matt Brown wants everyone to know that not only will the future Hall of Famer’s hockey achievements be remembered, but the imprint he left in the community will live forever.
After a second-straight heartbreaking Game 7 loss in Round One of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the 37-year-old Bergeron is again contemplating retirement. The Boston Bruins’ 4-3 OT loss to Florida Sunday completed Bergeron’s 19th NHL season, and Bergeron is once again an unrestricted free agent.
Unlike last season, Bergeron is coming out of a seven-game series that saw him limited to three games thanks to a herniated disc. Retirement seems much more likely than it was last year.
Since the Bruins lost to the Florida Panthers on Sunday, Bergeron’s teammates have lamented not giving him one more Stanley Cup and reflected on the qualities he imprinted on them as NHLers and human beings.
As Matt Brown proves, Bergeron’s imprint went much further than hockey.
For those unfamiliar, on Jan. 23, 2010, Matt Brown was a 15-year-old sophomore at Norwood High School when he suffered a spinal cord injury during a high school hockey game. He was in ICU and remained at Children’s Hospital Boston for 21 days. Afterward, he spent 100 days at the Shepherd Center Rehabilitation Center in Atlanta before returning to Norwood.
Bergeron not only visited Brown in the immediate aftermath of his accident but also down in Atlanta when the Bruins went south to play the then-Atlanta Thrashers (now Winnipeg Jets).
“I think what’s so special about him – well, there are many things – but when I was in the ICU at Children’s Hospital, before I was even out of my heavy, heavy, medicated sleep, there was a jersey above my bed that said: ‘To Matt! Stay Positive!’ There was also a hand-written note,” Brown recalled to Boston Hockey Now. “Patrice – at this time, was 23. …24 years old – and he just took time out of his day to drive home the ‘be patient, stay positive’ message.”
Just over two years earlier, Bergeron suffered a major concussion and missed most of the 2007-08 regular season. As Brown pointed out, he and Bergeron bonded from their unique and horrible experiences.
“He had suffered his bad concussion just years before that, so he understood what I was going through,” Brown pointed out. “He visited me in Atlanta when the Thrashers were still there and came to my hospital bed, and since then, we’ve seen him countless times after a game, and he’s still always checking in. Having someone of his caliber checking in, letting you know that he’s behind you, and staying updated on how you’re doing means the world.
“To have another person like that let me know I’m not going through this injury alone, and I’ve got an unbelievable support system behind me, and he’s one of them that stays in and keeps my spirits high.”
As Brown and most anyone who knows Bergeron can attest, Bergeron doesn’t do such acts of kindness for show and is one of the most genuine people you’ll ever meet.
“One of the best things about him is that he can come in after a 5-1 loss, and he’s still there for the kids that are very sick, and they are getting out of their tough days, and they get to spend three hours watching a hockey game, and go down and meet and hang with Patrice after,” Brown pointed out. “He keeps things light and is so interested in how each family is doing. He gives undivided attention to every kid he brings in, and that’s one of the most reassuring things I’ve seen with him. He is just there to make you always feel special and there to make sure you have a good night. It’s unbelievable.”
There are so many Bergeron stories like this, and while his Hall-of-Fame-worthy career will be discussed in the coming weeks and months, Boston Bruins fans should celebrate the person Patrice Bergeron is even more.