COUNTDOWN TO CAMP: PATRICE BERGERON
Countdown to camp: Patrice Bergeron
From now until the beginning of training camp, CSN Bruins Insider Joe Haggerty is profiling players who will be on, or have a chance to be on, the 2016-17 Bruins. Today: Patrice Bergeron.
The single most important player on the Bruins roster enters his 11th season with the team and remains one of the very best players in the NHL. The 32 goals were a career-high last season and the 25 power-play points signified a player who is hitting the very highest notes of his career while collecting yearly nominations as a Selke Trophy finalist. There’s no reason to think the 31-year-old Bergeron won’t repeat something similar this season for the Black and Gold. The Bruins are most definitely going to need it.
What happened last year
Bergeron, 31, was a Hart Trophy candidate after posting 32 goals, 68 points and was again the leading man the NHL in faceoff success while serving as the best two-way center in the game. Bergeron was a beast in all situations while logging 80 games played. He also has been the team’s sole All-Star game representative each of the past two seasons. Bergeron was, however, one of the Bruins players that appeared to wear down at the end of last season after carrying a heavy playing time burden. Bergeron’s 19:50 of ice time last season was his highest mark in nearly a decade and part of the reason David Backes was brought in was to reduce the stress on No. 37. All in all, it was another great season for Bergeron.
Questions to be answered this season
It will be the same as it’s been for a while with Bergeron: he simply needs to remain healthy as he has over the past seven seasons. Bergeron must also show that he can continue to keep up his tireless, two-way game at 31 with 820 regular season games on his NHL resume. This is about the time that some NHL players start to show the tread coming off their tires and begin to slow down a bit in a world where it’s all about the younger, faster and more skilled players coming in every season. Bergeron’s ability, hockey sense and effort level should be enough to offset any aging for at least a few more years, but the strain of last season definitely seemed to wear on him as it never had before. Perhaps the good health of David Krejci and the arrival of David Backes can re-energize No. 37 at the start of another long season that kicked off with the World Cup of Hockey tournament.
In their own words
“There are players that are untouchable on our roster. You get calls but Patrice Bergeron is not going anywhere. We have a good group of core guys that have done [been the mountaintop]. The rest of the guys need to either jump on board and become and grow and want to do that, or they won’t be here. From an organizational standpoint that’s what I stand for. That’s part of the reason why I was hired. I’m driven that way.” –Bruins general manager Don Sweeney, making it clear that Bergeron is the piece around which everything else is built.
Bergeron should post another All-Star season and the Bruins are relying on that from their 31-year-old superstar and heir to the captaincy of the Black and Gold. The Bruins coaching staff will have to carefully monitor their usage of No. 37 along with the four other players that are participating in the World Cup of Hockey, but let’s be honest here: the Bruins roster is not in a place where they can afford to rest Bergeron much at all. Instead, it will be about riding Bergeron, Marchand, Krejci, Backes and others to see how far Boston’s top players can take them. It’s a far cry from the days when the Bruins beat teams with their depth, physicality and toughness, but this is very clearly a different B’s team in a different era than the Cup teams of the past. Bergeron remains one of those links to the glorious, recent past and he should give plenty of reminders this season of why he was such an important part of that group.