Before the Bruins played the Hurricanes in the NHL’s Eastern Conference final, Hurricanes defenseman and ex-Bruin Dougie Hamilton reportedly called Patrice Bergeron “the perfect hockey player.”
That kind of praise is nothing new for the Bruins’ top center. NHL stars Matt Duchene, John Tavares, and Roberto Luongo all paid Bergeron similar compliments before the 2016 NHL All-Star Game.
Bergeron has long been one of the Bruins’ top players in all situations. Team captain Zdeno Chara has even referred to him as “my co-captain” in the past.
As Bergeron prepares for his third career trip to the Stanley Cup Final, here are four things to know about the team’s star.
Bergeron is part of the heralded 2003 NHL Entry Draft class.
The 2003 NHL Entry Draft class has been called one of the best ever. 28 of the 30 players chosen in 2003’s first round have played over 100 NHL games, and there were plenty of notable names taken outside that first round, too, including Bergeron himself.
The Bruins selected Bergeron in the second round that year, with the 45th overall pick. Even in a star-studded, deep draft class, Bergeron stands out as one of the best players 2003 brought into the NHL. Only seven players selected that year have played more games than Bergeron; only two, Eric Staal and Ryan Getzlaf, have scored more total points than him.
Bergeron stands even taller among the other players the Bruins selected in 2003. The team made 10 total picks that year, and five never made it to the NHL. Another only ever played one game. Nate Thompson left the organization via waivers in 2008 and has bounced around the league since.
The final two, Byron Bitz and Mark Stuart, inadvertently played pivotal roles in compiling the Bruins’ 2011 Stanley Cup champion team. Bitz was part of a trade in 2010 that brought defensemen Dennis Seidenberg and Matt Bartkowski to Boston, while Stuart was packaged with Blake Wheeler in a trade that brought forward Rich Peverley to the Bruins midway through the 2010-11 season.
A nasty hit in 2007 left his career in doubt at just 22 years old.
Bergeron made the NHL team at the age of 18 for the 2003-04 season. He scored 73 and 70 points in his second and third NHL seasons, respectively, a threshold he would not achieve again until 2019.
Bergeron’s ascendance as one of the league’s stars was halted on Oct. 27, 2007, when Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Randy Jones hit Bergeron into the boards from behind. The hit broke Bergeron’s nose, gave him what was then assessed as a Grade 3 concussion, and left Bergeron unconscious, his season over.
Jones received a two-game suspension for the hit.
The first time Bergeron spoke publicly after the hit, just twelve days later, his resolve shone through. He admitted to still feeling concussion symptoms and said it was tough for him to even appear in front of the press.
The Bruins treated Bergeron’s injury with caution. There was no timetable established for his return in the aftermath of the hit, but neither the player nor the team ever doubted that Bergeron would return to the ice.
“I’m sure I’ll be back,” Bergeron said on Nov. 9, 2007. “My goal right now is about feeling better as a person.”
Bergeron returned for the 2008-09 season and has not missed more than 18 games in any regular season since the injury.
He’s on the cusp of winning the award for the NHL’s top defensive forward … again.
The Frank J. Selke award is voted on by members of the Professional Hockey Writers Association and given to the top defensive forward in the league each season. For decades, Bob Gainey stood alone as the player with the most Selke awards to his resume (he won the award four years in a row, 1978-81.)
In 2017, Bergeron won his fourth Selke award at age 31. He had previously won the Selke in 2012, 2014, and 2015. He has finished within the top five in award voting every year since 2010 and has been named a finalist eight straight years in a row.
Bergeron is a finalist for the Selke award this season and would break the record for most awards won if he wins in 2019.
Bergeron is one of a few hockey players ever to have won the Stanley Cup, an Olympic gold medal, a World Championship, and the World Juniors Championship.
Beyond Bergeron’s distinguished career as one of hockey’s top all-around forwards, he is a member of an incredibly elite group: the Triple Gold Club, which distinguishes players who have won the Stanley Cup, an Olympic gold medal, and the IIHF World Championship.
Bergeron became the 25th player to join the Triple Gold Club when he won the 2015 World Championship with Team Canada on May 17, 2015. He had previously won the Stanley Cup with the Bruins in 2011 and earned Olympic gold with Canada twice, in 2010 and 2014.
— #WorldJuniors (@HC_WJC) September 18, 2016
Bergeron also won the World Junior Championship, an international under-20 tournament held each winter, in 2005 with Team Canada. He led all scorers in the tournament with 13 points and was named tournament MVP on a star-studded team that also featured current NHL stars Sydney Crosby, Shea Weber, Jeff Carter, Ryan Getzlaf, and Corey Perry.
The Hockey News has referred to Team Canada’s 2005 World Juniors team as the greatest of all time since players such as Bergeron, who already had played in the NHL by that point in his career, were able to participate due to a lockout that canceled the NHL’s 2004-05 season.