As the seconds ticked down on the Bruins’ season and the final buzzer sounded, many hockey fans in New England were faced with a question they haven’t had to ask in 18 years: Would Patrice Bergeron be back with the team next season?
The scene at the end of Boston’s 3-2 Game 7 loss to the Hurricanes on Saturday was Bergeron fist-bumping and tapping his teammates on the chest. Some hugs and embraces were mixed in as well. It wasn’t out of the ordinary from the captain — or any captain, for that matter — but at age 36 and heading into unrestricted free agency, the moment played out like a farewell more than a “We’ll get them next year.”
Patrice Bergeron gives the entire roster hugs as they make their way off the ice. pic.twitter.com/dN6qOwSP11
— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) May 14, 2022
Even ahead of the deciding Game 7, Bergeron sounded like someone who was soaking in what could be his last run with his team.
“Enjoy practice, enjoy everything that’s going to unfold throughout the whole thing,” Bergeron told reporters, per team-provided video. “Those are great memories as well.”
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Bergeron was asked after Boston’s Game 4 win whether retirement was on his mind, but he kept the focus on the series that was then tied 2-2.
“I’m not thinking about that, to be honest with you,” he told reporters. “I think I’ve been doing a good job of doing that all year.”
Now Bergeron has all the time in the world to think. The Bruins are heading into the offseason and they’ll probably expect an answer on their captain’s future sooner rather than later.
Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said postgame that he hopes that Bergeron will return. He and many Bruins fans probably share the same sentiment.
Bruins Bruce Cassidy on if Patrice Bergeron will retire, “He means so much to this franchise. We all want him back. Only he can answer that. I have no inkling. I have not addressed it with him. He’ll make that decision going forward.”
— Shawn Hutcheon (@ShawnHutcheon) May 14, 2022
Whether we’ve seen the last of Bergeron remains unclear. What we do know is that he has had a heck of a career.
He ranks third in Bruins franchise history with 1,216 games played, fourth with 400 goals and fourth with 582 assists. He’s also fourth in points with 982, trailing only Hall of Famers Phil Esposito, John Bucyk and Ray Bourque.
He helped his home country, Canada, win gold medals at the 2004 IIHF World Championship, 2005 World Juniors and 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.
As a four-time Selke Trophy winner, Bergeron has set the standard for a two-way player.
Saturday night may have been the last time we’ll see No. 37 in a Bruins uniform, but hockey fans across the globe can relish the fact that they got 18 seasons of excellence from one of the classiest players to ever lace them up.