Boston Bruins

Boston Bruins

Boston Bruins

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - APRIL 26: Patrice Bergeron #37 of the Boston Bruins looks on against the Florida Panthers during the first period in Game Five of the First Round of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs at TD Garden on April 26, 2023 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

As a hockey player, and even after 19 seasons, Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron certainly had more to give.

Boston’s top-line center for well over a decade, the 38-year-old Bergeron was coming off what was yet another successful season, with 27 goals and 58 points in 78 appearances for what was a record-breaking Bruins team. And led by the league’s best faceoff percentage and another year of consistent two-way excellence, Bergeron extended his NHL-record reign over the Selke Trophy, and captured his sixth such trophy and in downright dominant fashion.

And though his season didn’t end the way he wanted it to — Bergeron suffered a herniated disc in his back in the final game of the regular season and was limited to just three postseason appearances (all losses) — it didn’t appear as if Bergeron was approaching the cliff that’s inevitably claimed the career of most, if not all, players.

So when Bergeron decided to make it official and retire from the game of hockey on Tuesday morning after over 20 years with the organization, the ‘why?’ felt like an obvious one.

But as Bergeron explained in a Wednesday morning press conference at TD Garden, this exit was about going on his own terms.

  • “I think it was a combination of things,” Bergeron admitted when asked what made this the right time to hang ’em up. “I don’t think I can say it was one thing or there was one particular time that made me really make that decision.

    “I think it was more, over time I knew that, when I signed this past summer, I knew it was one year. I was leaning, that it might be my last year so the whole year was kind of preparing for that. And over time the body and realizing that it was just time for me to kind of move on. There’s a lot of things that kind of influenced me but the main thing is probably the body and spending more time with the family. I’ve always wanted and told myself that for me, I wanted to play the game at the highest level that I could, and felt like I wanted to kind of leave on top of my game, but also thinking about the future and knowing that I wanted to continue to, being able to spend time with family but also being active and doing other things and other endeavors that I’ve always wanted to but never really had the time to do.”

  • Oct 27, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron (37) congratulates left wing Brad Marchand (63) after he scored against the Detroit Red Wings during the third period at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

    Oct 27, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron (37) congratulates left wing Brad Marchand (63) after he scored against the Detroit Red Wings during the third period at TD Garden. (Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports)

    Being at the top of his game as a player has always been something that Bergeron has seemed mindful of when it comes to his playing career. With all due respect to hockey legends like Joe Thornton or Jaromir Jagr, it never felt as if Bergeron wanted to go out skating in a bottom-six role/healthy scratch role or having to walk away from the game in the middle of a season when it became undeniable that the game had passed him by.

    There’s also no denying the miles — and hard miles, at that — on Bergeron’s body over the years, and the risks that came with suiting up for another season and hoping that he was going to escape it unscathed. His groin injuries were at one point considered ‘chronic’ (though Bergeron noted at the end of the season that it actually held up this past season), his 2022 ended with an elbow surgery, and Bergeron dealt with the aforementioned back injury this postseason. The list was beginning to pile up, and there was no denying the future risk that came with every game.

    “As you know, the preparation and the routine and the work, that regiment is important to be on top of your game and making sure you are doing the right things, and that motivation slowed down a little bit – I’m not going to lie – this summer,” said Bergeron. “It’s almost like I was listening to my body and the signs, and it’s almost like it was telling me that you’re not really missing any workouts, you haven’t been on the ice for a long time, and you haven’t really had the itch to get back.

    “So, I think, just all the way throughout, I just knew it was time, and I was waiting for anything to happen or for any motivation to come back, and I just felt like it was the right time for me to move on. You have to listen to your body eventually, and as you know, 20 years is a lot of hockey, a lot of games, and obviously, the game is physically very demanding. It takes a toll on your body, and no major issues, but there’s obviously some aches and pains from the past that kind of reminds me when I wake up in the morning. So, I think it’s just time to let that heal and move on.”

  • Mar 14, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Boston Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron (37) skates against the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Sabau-USA TODAY Sports

    Mar 14, 2023; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Boston Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron (37) skates against the Chicago Blackhawks at United Center. (Jamie Sabau/USA TODAY Sports)

    There’s something to be said for Bergeron listening to his body before it truly broke down. And for the fact that his game never truly fell off a cliff despite those hard miles and minutes over the course of a do-it-all career.

    But Bergeron felt the signs coming.

    “I think the biggest thing was probably the preparation to get to the ice [and] I guess, the stretching and the mobility that you have to stay on top of,” Bergeron noted. “The preparation to get on the ice for practice was getting longer, the games, it just took me more time to prepare. And as far as the game goes, there’s always parts of your game that you feel like it’s not quite there. It’s more of a – mentally you’re just pushing yourself to be better and be on top of your game as much as possible.

    “I think you’re always trying to work on things, and you’re never satisfied, I guess. I’ve always been that way, so it’s hard to really say how I felt my game was. You always kind of know there’s room for improvements, so that’s how I’ve always kind of went about my business, I guess, over the years. But, I felt good. I felt good on the ice, felt good skating, felt good making plays and what not. I felt like the game was still slowing down when I had the puck, and it’s not like I felt like I had no time and space or I couldn’t create time and space for myself. It was more the preparation.

    “It was taking a lot longer now. I couldn’t just put the equipment on and jump on the ice.”

  • TAMPA, FLORIDA - JANUARY 26: Patrice Bergeron #37 of the Boston Bruins faces off during a game against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena on January 26, 2023 in Tampa, Florida. (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images )

    TAMPA, FLORIDA – JANUARY 26: Patrice Bergeron #37 of the Boston Bruins faces off during a game against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Amalie Arena on January 26, 2023 in Tampa, Florida. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images )

    As for what’s next, Bergeron remains a man with options.

    He’s not sure how much hockey he’ll watch (though he admitted that he didn’t watch too much during his playing career), and he’s not sure if his family will remain in Boston or return to Quebec City. Job-wise, Bergeron knows that he still doesn’t want to coach, and the job he’s most looking forward to involves being the Uber driving for his family.

    But Bergeron is happy to leave a legacy that was built around respect and being the best version of himself in every sense of the word.

    “What I’ve always tried to do is be a good role model for kids and younger generations, for my kids but also for anyone that watched the Bruins or a game,” Bergeron said. “It was always important for me to be a good example and lead that way on and off the ice. I think the community work was really important for me. I’ve met so many amazing people throughout the years and it’s pretty special.

    “I think the one thing I’ll definitely say is I left everything out there. I have no regrets on anything, and I gave my all. But to be remembered, I hope it’s more the connections and the way I was trying to get to know people personally, and to me that’s what matters most.”

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