If you’re a fan of Boston sports, you’ve been fortunate enough to witness one of, if not the most dominant stretch in professional sports history by one city.
Dating back to 2001, the city of Boston has seen 12 championships between the New England Patriots, Boston Red Sox, Boston Celtics and Boston Bruins. That number jumps to 13 if you expand the list and add in the Boston Pride of the NWHL.
Related: Bruins Logo History
Outside of just the Championship wins, however, Boston sports teams have also consistently found themselves competing year in and year out in some capacity and the run of excellence doesn’t necessarily seem to be ending with the Bruins and Celtics still right in the prime of their Championship windows.
The wins and competitive streak alone should be enough to keep just about any sports fan satisfied over the course of nearly two decades. For the city of Boston, though, there’s more to it than just being competitive. There’s a sense of family and loyalty as just about every team has seen long-tenured players make their mark for years while cementing their places in history.
Boston isn’t just a city with good sports teams, it’s a city that’s been home to some of the most prolific athletes in history.
As they say, though, all good things must eventually come to an end.
It’s painful to think about despite the fact that everybody knew it had to end eventually, but on March 17, 2020, Tom Brady announced via his Instagram account that he would not be returning to the New England Patriots, ending a 20-year tenure in Boston.
On March 20, 2020, he’d sign a new deal to become the quarterback of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, officially closing the door on his time in New England.
This decision meant that the longest-tenured player in Boston sports was leaving town and somebody else would then pick up the mantle.
Across the NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL and even the MLS, the longest-tenured athletes in Boston are Matthew Slater (2008), Dustin Pedroia (2006), Marcus Smart (2014), Patrice Bergeron (2003) and Diego Fagundez (2011) respectively.
Patrice Bergeron Taking the Torch from Tom Brady
This would make the 34-year-old Bergeron the longest-tenured player in Boston across all major sports.
If anybody was best-suited to take the torch and run with it, it would have to be Bergeron.
Truly an icon on and off the ice in Boston, Bergeron has cemented his legacy as one of the very best, albeit underrated players in the history of the sport.
Though hockey may lag behind as far as national coverage goes in New England (and the United States as a whole), there is a very significant portion of Bruins’ fans in the city who grew up watching and admiring Bergeron for everything he’s been through in his career.
Making his debut during the 2003-04 season and scoring 16 goals as a rookie, Bergeron instantly captured the hearts of the fans.
He’d follow that season up with 31 goals and 73 points in 81 games as a sophomore in the 2005-06 season (after scoring 21 goals and 61 points in 68 games in the AHL in the 2004-05 during the league-wide lockout) and he’d prove that he could be an exemplary 200-foot player with a scoring touch at the NHL level.
A rocky stretch of time with injury could have easily changed the trajectory of his career would prove to be an obstacle, limiting him to just 10 games in 2007-08 and 64 games the following season.
Still, Bergeron has proven more than just about any player in Boston sports history that injuries cannot and will not hold him down for long.
Bergeron Persevering Through Multiple Serious Injuries
To give a recap of Bergeron’s injury history, we can look at three major instances of Bergeron battling through or back from ailments that could have derailed just about anybody else’s season and potentially jeopardized their careers.
The first and most obvious set of injuries that Bergeron has faced has come in the form of serious concussions. The most notable concussion that Bergeron suffered came when then-Philadelphia Flyers defender Randy Jones drilled the Bruins’ center into the end-boards in a simply horrifying play that left Bergeron motionless on the ice.
This would unfortuantely haunt Bergeron for years as the veteran has suffered upwards of four concussions in his career.
Returning from this and becoming the player that he is today is truly something to marvel over and it’s not something Bruins’ fans take lightly.
A moment that showed Bergeron’s ability to play through pain and, for better or worse, be there for his teammates on a national scale came during the 2013 Stanley Cup Final. Bergeron played exemplary hockey throughout the postseason on both ends of the ice and though the team would ultimately lose in Game 6 to the Chicago Blackhawks, this series would show just what Bergeron was capable of.
The reason this series stands out and will forever be a part of Bergeron’s legacy is the fact that he played with a broken rib, torn cartilage and muscle tissue, a separated shoulder and a punctured lung in Game 6 and was dealing with various serious injuries throughout the postseason.
Another example of Bergeron playing at a near-superhuman level came during the 2016-17 season when he suffered a sports hernia in the final practice prior to the start of the regular season. Bergeron would play in 79 games that season and would only undergo surgery to repair the injury in the offseason.
Bergeron Putting the Bruins and Boston First, Always
Playing through injuries like this isn’t a smart move and it’s not something young players in 2020 should be striving for given what we now know about various injuries and how their long-term effects can seriously affect a person’s comfort of life beyond their playing years.
Still, it’s hard to not look at Bergeron’s ability to put his team first and put his blood, sweat and tears on the line for a city that has so lovingly embraced him for 17 years.
Related: Growing Up in the Bergeron Era
This is especially true when you consider just how much goes into Bergeron’s game on a nightly basis. He’s one of the smartest and hardest working players the game has ever seen and through age and injury, he’s still the first player back to break up a play by the other team in between rushes up the ice on offense for the Bruins.
With 352 goals and 869 points in 1,089 games to go along with his four Selke Trophy Awards, King Clancy Memorial Trophy and one Stanley Cup Championship ring, Bergeron is already a Hall of Fame player who will have his number retired in the rafters of TD Garden one day.
That hasn’t stopped him from playing harder than anybody else in the city, however, and it doesn’t seem like that time is coming any time soon.