Boston Bruins

PITTSBURGH, PENNSYLVANIA - APRIL 25: Patrice Bergeron #37 of the Boston Bruins during a game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Boston Bruins at PPG PAINTS Arena on April 25, 2021 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The Pittsburgh Penguins won 1-0. (Photo by Emilee Chinn/Getty Images)

Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron is officially in a year-to-year approach to his career.

Set to begin his 18th (his 18th!) season with the Bruins, the 36-year-old has opted not to talk about a potential extension just yet. For Bergeron, his focus is on the 2021-22 season and trying to will thee Bruins to their first Stanley Cup since 2011.

But according to Bruins president Cam Neely, Bergeron’s secondary (or maybe it’s his primary, actually) reason for pausing any talk of the future is also centered around making sure he’s not committing to a contract he can’t live up to on the ice.

“I give Bergy a ton of credit — which happens a lot around here — [but] he wasn’t just jumping at an extension without really knowing if he was going to be able to commit the time and energy that he has to to be the player that he is,” Neely said. “He’s played a lot of hockey, he’s had some significant injuries in his career. So I think he really wants to, and rightfully so, see how he feels at the end of the year and see if he still has the passion and the drive to be the player that he’d like to be.”

Oh, that’s just perfectly Bergeron. And it’s totally understandable.

An NHLer since 2003, Bergeron’s 21,490 minutes and change of career ice-time ranks 17th among all active players, and only seven forwards (Ryan Getzlaf, Sidney Crosby, Dustin Brown, Joe Thornton, Anze Kopitar, and Alex Ovechkin) have played more than Bergeron. This is where it’s important to note that Bergeron missed the final 72 games of the 2007-08 season due to a Grade 3 concussion. Had that not happened, the tread on Bergeron’s tires would be even worse.

But the injuries, as noted by Neely, are a factor. Although Bergeron has been in good shape on the concussion front for about a decade, the other injuries that the do-it-all center has battled through are well-documented. We know about the nearly unfathomable list of injuries Bergeron played with in the 2013 Stanley Cup Final, and groin ailments have become assumed by now. It’s even been called “chronic.” (For what it’s worth, when speaking at the conclusion of the team’s postseason run last June, Bergeron noted that his groin held up throughout the 56-game 2021 season, and the tone in his voice confirmed that that almost surprised him.)

A return to the 82-game grind — and with the David Krejci safety net on line two now out of Boston and dominating the Czech League — could come with some bumps.

Where things get interesting for Bergeron, of course, is his production. Despite the miles on his blades and age, Bergeron has been producing at borderline career-high marks since the team put David Pastrnak on his right wing with Brad Marchand. I mean, four of Bergeron’s six best seasons in terms of points-per-game have come in the last four seasons, and Bergeron’s plus-27 in 2021 was his best since 2013-14. He probably should have won another Selke Trophy, but we have a voting system where some writers clearly decide whose year it’s going to be without even looking at all the free information available to them (I would bet you $20 that the Golden Knights’ Mark Stone is going to win it this year even if his numbers and the advanced metrics tell you that he’s not the best option because people will say he’s “due”).

One thing that’s clear is that the Bruins are not going to rush any sort of decision when it comes to No. 37. The Bruins have to take care of franchise defenseman Charlie McAvoy — and they may be closer than we all realize on that front — at some point between now and Oct. 2023, and a new contract for winger David Pastrnak looms after that. But the Bruins have made it clear to Bergeron that he’ll have a home on the team for as long as he wants to play.

“We’re going to give [Bergeron] all that time and space as needed,” Neely said. “I certainly would love to see him continue [playing], but we’ll see where that goes.”

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Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter: @_TyAnderson.

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