And so it’s come to pass, the great Patrice Bergeron has decided it’s time hang up of the skates.
The multi award-winning Center and philanthropist announced in a press release on July 25, that he was stepping away from a dream he’d been able to live for 20+ years.
A dream which has seen him play 19 seasons with one of the National Hockey League’s most influential teams; the Boston Bruins and represent Canada in seven international contests.
The Bergeron Way
Bergeron or ‘Bergy’ as he’s also known, would become one of the most influential Bruins players in the history of the organisation.
Observers of his career remark that he brought the Bruins into the 21st Century with greater offensive prowess, with firsts in NHL wins, goals against, penalty kills and faceoffs.
When asked about Bergeron’s influence on Bruins, the Hall of Famer Ken Hitchcock, who had Bergeron on Team Canada twice, said that he was a highly adaptable player, a positive force for the team and a menace to your opponents.
‘To me, he was the head of the snake. If you couldn’t neutralize him, if you couldn’t make him uncomfortable, you had no chance of beating them.
To have a player like that, who carries the conscience of his team around, who is there for the kids, who is zero maintenance to have around, who’s a player you can put anywhere and with anybody if you’re a coach, that’s an unbelievable gift to have,’ he told the media.
A player for all seasons
It’s not just Hitchcock that sings his praises. ‘He’s a winner’
That’s how Ken Holland, currently Edmonton Oilers GM described Bergy and his impressive stats and his incredible reliability on the ice.
‘You look at those numbers. Wins, goals against, penalty kill, faceoffs. He touches every one of those areas. He’s on power play. He’s on penalty kill. He’s on late in a game when you’re down a goal. He’s on late in the game when you’re up by a goal and protecting a lead.
‘He plays in every situation and he played his entire career against the best players on the other teams.’
With the great praise comes the awards and recognition too. His performance has refined and improved and it shows from the silverware.
Over the past 12 NHL seasons, Bergy managed to win the Selke Trophy six times (most recently 2023) in recognition of his skills as a defensive forward.
The Center would also represent Canada seven times, both as a junior and senior, where he’d win Gold six times between 2004 to 2016.
Alongside his performances on the ice, he’d also be recognised for his charitable work off the ice. He would be awarded the King Clancy Memorial Trophy in 2013.
The Patrice’s Pals programme which formed in 2006 would host 10,000+ children from around the city of Boston at a special suite at the TD Garden throughout 2023.
He’d also lead the Cuts for a Cause charity event between 2015 – 2018 and ping pong tournament called Pucks and Paddles between 2018 – 2023. Both raised around $400,000.
Since 2010, he has also been involved in a massive holiday toy shopping event buying toys for the kids in Boston’s hospitals.
The Perfect Player
Peers, teammates and the who’s who of the hockey community, as well as the people he’s helped, have been lavishing praise on Bergy.
He’s a sample of what they said:
One of his former teammates, Aaron Ward described him as the ‘Perfect Player’
‘The perfect player. The perfect teammate. The perfect leader. A guy who consistently represented his City, his Team and most importantly ‘the game’ the way we all wish we could. Congrats Patrice!’
Hockey Hall of Famer and ex-Bruin Ray Bourque would recognise Bergerson as an example player.
‘Today is a sad day for Bruins fans, as we celebrate the end of an incredible career of one of the all-time great Bruins.
‘From day one until today, Patrice approached his job with unwavering dedication and passion, setting an example for all.’
There’s also a touching post from former Canada teammate and peer Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
‘Bergy, It’s been a pleasure to compete against you and a special honor to be your teammate over the years.
Your achievements speak for themselves, but the person you are is what stands out the most. For anyone who has played with or against you, there isn’t a better example to follow.
Congratulations on a remarkable career and enjoy the next chapter mon ami! -Sid’
Among the many praises and thanks that the French Canadian lavishes upon his team, fans, family and peers, he reminds the next generation of the importance of the dream.
‘I had a dream at 12 years old, and through hard work and perseverance my dreams came true more than I ever could have imagined.
‘Respect the game and your peers. Welcome adversity and simply enjoy yourself. No matter where you go from there the game will bring you so much happiness.’
Some key moments from Patrice Bergeron’s career
June 21 2003 – Bergeron is recruited in the Second Round Draft of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft.
October 8 2003 – The Center makes his debut just four months have being drafted. He plays for 10 minutes and takes a shot against New Jersey Devils in the 3 – 3 tie.
October 18 2003 – Bergeron will score his first NHL goal, coming off a rebound from a power play. He’d also rack up two assists in the 4 – 3 victory over LA Kings.
June 15 2011 – He’d score two goals in the seventh and final deciding game which saw the Boston Bruins quench their Stanley Cup thirst and win the trophy.
June 20 2012 – Bergeron wins his first of six Selke trophies with his last being June 26 2023. He’d be the second Bruin in the history of the organisation to win the award. The first being Steve Kaspar in 1982-83.
June 2013 – Named the King Clancy Trophy recipient for his leadership on the ice and off for his humanitarian actions and charitable work.
December 22 2018 – Just before the holidays, the Center hits his 300th goal of his career in the 5 – 2 victory over Nashville Predators.
February 5 2019 – Scores twice in his 1000th career game. His two goals towards the 3 – 1 against the New York Islanders. He became one of only six Bruins at the time to hit 1000 career games.
January 2021 – Bergeron is named the 26th captain of Boston Bruins, taking over from Zdeno Chara.
April 28 2022 – The captain would hit his 400th goal during his 8th career hat-trick in a 5 – 0 stomping of the Buffalo Sabres. The 400th was his 25th of the season and it was delivered with just over two minutes of regulation time to go.
November 21 2022 – He’d make history again by registering his 1000th career point milestone and becoming the fourth Bruin to do it.
July 25 2023 – Bergeron calls it day with a total of 477 goals, 691 assists in 1464 games with Boston Bruins.