BRIGHTON, Mass – Ask modest, team-oriented Patrice Bergeron about any potential consideration for the Hart Trophy at year’s end, and you’ll get a player that’s understandably uncomfortable at talking himself up.
“I don’t have any thoughts on it, to be honest with you,” said a fairly sheepish Bergeron. “I’m not really thinking about it. There are 30 games left. I’ll leave that up to you guys to discuss. To me it’s not really something…it’s a team game, and that’s how I want it to be.”
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But the good thing for the 32-year-old Bruins superstar is that he’s got a whole host of teammates, coaches and bosses in upper management that are more than willing to sing endless praises about Bergeron, and why he’s so valuable to the Black and Gold.
“I would love it. It would be awesome for him. He is a terrific person,” said Cassidy. “The Selke [Trophy] is basically his to lose every single year with no disrespect to [Anze] Kopitar and [Jonathan] Toews, they’re both great players. But Bergeron has put his stamp on that trophy, and it would be nice to do that with the Hart.
“It tends to go for more scoring players, so that will be a hurdle that he’ll have to get over. But hopefully he’ll have won over enough people around the league in terms of being up there with the point totals. It’s tough because there are great candidates every year. I don’t think there’s ever a bad choice to win the Hart, but it’s great that he’s in that conversation. It’s great that [Brad] Marchand was in it last season.”
And why not for all of the things that go into the Bruins center being one of the ultimate winning players in the entire NHL, and for this season where Bergeron has exploded with 13 goals in 15 games since the beginning of January.
Bergeron is on pace for a career-high 40 goals and 75 points this season, and that goes along with his customary high-effort, two-way play and his continued mastery in the face-off circle. Essentially No. 37 has taken this humble hockey writer’s early season notion that he might be starting to show some signs of decline, and shoved right back in my proverbial pie-hole.
Whether going by conventional stats where Bergeron ranks third in the NHL with a plus-26 and just outside the top-10 with his 24 goals or going by fancy stats where No. 37 really jumps off the page with his puck possession dominance, the offense and defense has been in perfect balance for the perfect player this season.
So it really should be that Bergeron finally gets serious Hart Trophy consideration in a season that might turn out to be his best on a Bruins team that might just wind up with the President’s Trophy at the end of the season.
“He gets rewarded and acknowledged for the Selke Trophy every year and rightfully so. He’s by far the best two-way player in the league. But I think a lot of things with him go unnoticed. He could easily get 100 points a year if he just wanted to cheat and be an offensive player,” said left winger Brad Marchand, who has been Bergeron’s running mate for the last seven seasons. “He’s still up around a point-per-game, and he’s definitely up there in the league if you’re looking around for an MVP. He deserves to be recognized, and I think it goes unnoticed a bit just how important he is to this team…and what he brings to the table each and every game.
“A lot of guys realize it when they have to play against him, and consistently play against him game after game. It’s very tough to do with how hard he plays, the plays he can make and how he plays defensively. It is time that he gets recognized as one of the best players in the league and as an MVP…because he is [one].”
It will probably take Bergeron continuing to remain pretty hot offensively down the stretch and sticking right around the 0.91 points per game clip that he’s at right now to remain in the conversation. That shouldn’t be much of a problem considering he’s centering the best 200-foot forward line in the entire NHL with a couple of electric offensive talents on either side of him.
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The bottom line is this: This should be the season that a player like Bergeron is recognized for who and what he is, one of the NHL’s best players at both ends of the ice. The Bruins center should have been invited to NHL All-Star weekend last month in Tampa Bay, and now Bergeron should absolutely be in the mix for the Hart Trophy given his massive role in powering all facets for the NHL’s best regular season team.
There’s no reason No. 37 shouldn’t be the first dual Hart Trophy and Selke Trophy winner since the great Sergei Federov back in 1994.
While the B’s alternate captain is too focused on teams goals to say it, this humble hockey writer certainly will: It’s time that Bergeron gets his just due in the Hart Trophy voting this season when we’re evaluating just how valuable individual players are to their respective clubs.