The Boston Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery are gearing up for the 2023-24 NHL regular season with many significant changes in place. Perhaps the most notable change on the team will be the departure of captain Patrice Bergeron and subsequently, finding and appointing his successor.
Though Bergeron was only named captain of the team in 2021, he held a leadership role with the Bruins for the vast majority of his storied career. Drafted in 2003 by the team and immediately stepping in as a fixture of the lineup, Bergeron’s legacy will live on forever in Boston; to expect any individual to singlehandedly replicate his impact would be an unrealistic burden. Still, with Bergeron and Zdeno Chara before, the blueprint for leadership in Boston has been meticulously crafted.
The future captain, the 21st in Bruins’ history, will undoubtedly be influenced by the remarkable examples set by Bergeron and Chara. Though they won’t be pressured to replicate their monumental impact, the incoming leader will have the advantage of gleaning inspiration from the unwavering commitment and character displayed by these two icons as they carve out their distinctive leadership style.
Speaking at the 20th annual Boston Bruins Foundation golf tournament at Pinehills Golf Club, Montgomery discussed the team’s plans for the upcoming season. While he emphasized that there is no set timeline for choosing a captain, he expressed the organization’s intention to have a player don the coveted ‘C’ this season.
Montgomery stated, “I think we are trending in the right direction towards having someone be our captain [this season]. We’ve had internal conversations, and I think decisions will be made. I don’t know if there’s a timeline on that yet. We have enough real good leaders, where we could have a captain that would be leading us.”
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Replacing icons like Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara as captains is a formidable challenge. Nevertheless, Montgomery exuded confidence in the leadership within the Bruins’ dressing room, acknowledging the legacy left behind by past leaders and the need for players to step up. He noted, “I mean, we lost a lot of leadership people last year. We didn’t just lose Bergy – we lost [David Krejci], we lost [Nick] Foligno, players that were especially important.”
The next captain of the Bruins must bring their unique style of leadership to the table while ensuring accountability among their teammates. Montgomery outlined the qualities he believes make a good captain, saying, “Someone that is confident in who they are, someone that isn’t afraid to put his arm around a teammate, and also hold a teammate accountable.” Moreover, the captain should be comfortable communicating with everyone, including the coaching staff, media, and fans, serving as the vital link between these entities and the team.
Montgomery recognized that adjusting to a new captain would be a learning curve for everyone involved, including himself. He acknowledged, “I’m going to have an adjustment with whoever the captain is because I had a relationship with Bergy that’s going to be different with them.” Just as colleagues at work communicate differently, the dynamics between the coach and the captain may vary. Montgomery stressed the importance of open-mindedness and effective communication in building a successful partnership.
Bruins Next Captain Will Have a Good Supporting Cast
It’s important to note that the role of the captain is far different than the role of any other player on the team. The team will lean on the captain to be their leader on the ice, in the locker room and when representing the team needs to the coach. Inkind, the coach will lean on the captain to be their go-to player in the room and make sure that the overarching messages and needs of the coaching staff are met.
As the Bruins look ahead to their Centennial year in the 2023-24 NHL season, the anticipation of a new captain adds an extra layer of excitement to an already historic franchise. While the decision may not be rushed, the team is undoubtedly heading in the right direction, thanks to the guidance of Coach Montgomery and the leadership potential of candidates like Brad Marchand and Charlie McAvoy.
Marchand was Bergeron’s long-time linemate and one of his closest friends. He is a holdover from the previous era and was captained by both Chara and Bergeron throughout his career; he’s grown a lot as a player, a leader and a person as he’s gotten older and could be a prime option to succeed Bergeron. McAvoy, on the other hand, is the face of the next generation of Bruins and started his career on a pairing with Chara. He also played on teams captained by both of the Bruins’ prior two captains and seems destined to one day wear the captain’s C” the same way Bergeron seemed destined to wear it for so long.
While it isn’t clear who will eventually become the official captain of the Bruins, what is clear is that this individual will not lead alone. Instead, the entire leadership group will continue to play a role and make life easier for the players and coaches around them. The transition from one era of leadership to another will be a challenging yet vital aspect of maintaining the Bruins’ rich tradition and competitiveness in the NHL.