Earlier this month, Patrice Bergeron contemplated the idea of being a life-long Bruin.
“It would mean a lot,” Bergeron said on July 2. “That’s the goal since the beginning. It’s the team that believed in me when I was 18 and I was coming up. Now, it’s my home. I feel like it is. I love the city. I love the people. I definitely love the organization. It would mean a lot to me. Hopefully we can work something out.”
Bergeron is set up to achieve that goal.
On Friday, the Bruins signed Bergeron to an eight-year, $52 million extension. The eight-year term, like the one Tuukka Rask signed on July 10, is the maximum to which a team can re-up its own players.
“I want to retire as a Bruin,” Bergeron said Friday after the Bruins announced the deal.
And the Bruins seem ready to make that happen.
“He embodies a lot of what the Bruins stand for,” general manager Peter Chiarelli said. “He’s a responsible player. He’s a hard player. He’s a leader. He’s a clutch player. And he’s just got a kind of classic way of carrying himself that I like to be part of and the Bruins like to be part of.”
The contract will expire after the 2021-22 season. Bergeron will be 36 years old. The alternate captain, if he remains with the Bruins through the end of the deal, would have been in Black and Gold for half of his life.
Bergeron’s extension will be effective in 2014-15. This season will be the last of his three-year, $15 million contract.
Chiarelli admitted that Bergeron could have gotten more money had he gone on the open market. But he didn’t, deciding that staying in Boston—and still getting a contract that will pay him an AAV of $6.5 million—was more important than getting every last dollar.
“We love the organization, we also love the city,” Bergeron said. “It really feels like home now. We don’t want to go anywhere else. So it was an easy decision for me and my family.”
Bergeron, who turns 28 on July 24, has established himself as one of the NHL’s elite two-way centers. Chicago’s Jonathan Toews may be Bergeron’s closest rival. In 2013, Bergeron was the runner-up to Toews for the Selke Trophy as the NHL’s best defensive forward. Bergeron won the Selke in 2011-12.
This past season, Bergeron scored 10 goals and 22 assists in 42 regular-season games. He centered the second line, mostly between Brad Marchand and Tyler Seguin.
Bergeron won 62.1 percent of his faceoffs, the top mark in the NHL, and averaged 19:17 of ice time per game, most among team forwards. Bergeron played 2:12 per game on the penalty kill. On the power play, Bergeron averaged 2:10 of action. The Bruins deployed Bergeron in multiple man-up roles: net front, half boards, goal line.
But in the playoffs, Bergeron elevated his performance. He scored nine goals and six assists in 22 playoff games. He played a critical role in the Game 7 rally against Toronto in the opening round. Bergeron scored the tying six-on-five goal in the third period, and scored the winning goal in overtime. For most of the postseason, Bergeron centered Marchand and Jaromir Jagr.
In the Stanley Cup Final, Bergeron suffered a battering of injuries. In Game 4 at TD Garden, Bergeron most likely tore rib cartilage after absorbing a thump from Michael Frolik. In Game 5 at the United Center, Bergeron broke a rib. After Game 5, Bergeron was admitted to a Chicago hospital because of concern about an injured spleen. Tests were negative.
Before warmups prior to Game 6, doctors gave Bergeron a nerve-blocking shot to dull the pain on his left side. In the first period, while protecting his ribs, Bergeron fell into the boards and separated his right shoulder.
He also suffered a punctured lung along the way.
After the first period, Bergeron was given another nerve-blocking shot. Doctors believe it was either the shot or the broken rib that punctured one of his lungs. Bergeron finished the game, but had trouble breathing after the loss. He checked into Massachusetts General Hospital, where doctors diagnosed the center with a collapsed lung. Bergeron stayed at MGH for two nights. But he will not require surgery for any of his injuries.
For now, Bergeron is restricted in his activities as he recovers his injuries. He plans to start working out again at the end of next week, and expects to be ready for training camp.
“It’s more about the lung and making sure,” Bergeron said. “They put a hole through my rib cage to I guess get the air out and make sure that my lung was going back to its place and staying there.
“So now the four weeks is to make sure that everything heals and that it doesn’t collapse again. So it’s more for my lung than anything else. My shoulder and my ribs are feeling better. It’s still not 100 percent obviously.”
Bergeron also played through an injury to close out 2011-12. He pulled an oblique muscle in Game 5 of the first-round playoff loss to Washington. He dressed for Games 6 and 7, but Bergeron took only one faceoff in each game.
The primary concern of Bergeron’s extension is his concussion history. He suffered the fourth concussion of his career on April 2. Bergeron was engaging Ottawa’s Colin Greening in a puck battle. Greening clipped Bergeron behind the right ear with an inadvertent elbow. He then missed six games because of the concussion.
Bergeron’s major concussion took place on Oct. 27, 2007. The injury ended his season.
In 2013-14, Bergeron will most likely center the No. 2 line alongside Marchand and new Bruin Loui Eriksson. It will be used as a matchup line that will create offense from defense.
Bergeron could also represent Team Canada for the second straight time. Bergeron was a spare forward on Canada’s gold-winning team in 2010. The NHL is expected to allow its players to participate in the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.