Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron wasn’t ready to discuss his future in the moments following the Bruins’ season-ending Game 7 loss to the Hurricanes, which ended their season.
“No, it’s too early right now. Not after – it’s too fresh right now,” Bergeron said when asked if he decided if he would return next season. “It still stings from a hard-fought series and we came up short. Obviously, I’m going to have to think about it but I’m not there right now.”
Bergeron, who turns 37 in July, is in the final year of his contract. But rumors of him possibly retiring have floated for much of the season.
After the game ended, Bergeron hugged every Bruins teammate as they entered the locker room.
“A moment to share with them and thanking them for battling together every day, basically,” Bergeron said of the final moments on the ice on Saturday. “It stings. It’s not the feeling that you want. That being said, we did it together.”
Bergeron’s by far the longest-tenured Bruin, playing for the team since they drafted him in 2003.
Brad Marchand, who’s played on the same line as Bergeron for much of the last 12 seasons, was emotional when discussing his teammate’s possible retirement.
“He’s the backbone of our team. Obviously, the biggest part of our team. We want him to come back,” Marchand said. “But whatever happens, he’s earned the right to make whatever decision he wants and to take the time that he needs. I guess time will tell.”
“That’s a personal thing that he and his family are going to decide,” Marchand added. “I’ve obviously pushed my case on him to come back. If he ever wanted to open up and talk about it, then that’s up to him. But I wasn’t going to press him.”
Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy shared similar thoughts on wanting Bergeron to return to Boston next season.
“I hope not,” Cassidy said when asked if he had any idea if Saturday was Bergeron’s final game with the Bruins. “He means so much to this franchise that we all want him back. But only he can answer that. I have no inkling, I have not addressed that with him. It’s not my place in the middle of the season. He’ll make that decision going forward.”
Bergeron is still playing at a high level. He played in his third All-Star game this season, scoring 25 goals to go along with 40 assists. In the series against Carolina, Bergeron scored three goals and had four assists, giving him a point per game.
As Bergeron’s team made a plea for him to stay, all he could think about was the loss to Carolina.
“It’s always hard to say that when you come up short, but we battled,” Bergeron said. “That’s something we’ve done all year. We started off a little slow this year, this series was kind of the same, but we battled our way back and played the type of hockey we needed to advance. But tonight, we came up short and obviously we needed a little more.”
The Bruins trailed, 3-1, for almost the entire final 30 minutes of the game. However, with the goalie pulled, David Pastrnak scored a goal with 21 seconds remaining to cut the Hurricanes’ lead to 3-2.
Bergeron won the ensuing faceoff and Boston had one last rush. Boston created chaos in front of the net, with Bergeron getting a couple shots off to try to tie the game. But Hurricanes goalie Antti Raanta and the skaters in front of him made the stops needed to prevent the game from going to overtime.
Bergeron thought his team had a chance there at the end as he reminisced on the opportunities the Bruins had in Game 7.
“At that point, you’re a shot away,” Bergeron said of the final seconds. “I thought we got some jump out of it and took the momentum back. We had a couple of good shifts, good looks – a couple good looks in the first as well that those bounces, if they go your way, it’s a different game. It’s easy to say that now. Kudos to them. They played a great series, a great game. They’re advancing.”
Now, Bergeron has his future to think about. Will he play hockey again next season, and if he does, will it be with the Bruins?
The answer to those questions still isn’t known. What Bergeron does know though is that he likes the Bruins’ young players.
“That’s something that I was taught early on in my career. It needs to be a cycle basically. When it’s your turn, you’ve got to give it back and got to do it,” Bergeron said on being a leader. “We’ve got some great young players that are open to listen, open to learn. You see the growth in those guys – [Charlie] McAvoy, [Brandon] Carlo, [Pastrnak] – it’s impressive. It’s great to see.”
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