One of the best defensive forwards of his era, there is little doubt that Boston Bruins center and alternate captain Patrice Bergeron will be, or certainly should be, inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame when he chooses to hang up the skates. But, his Hall-of-Fame resume goes far beyond back-checks and big goals.
In 1,089 games played to date in the National Hockey League, all with the Bruins, Bergeron has put up 869 points, including 352 goals and 517 assists. Of those goals, 67 have been of the game-winning variety, with eight scored in overtime. In addition, the Quebec native boasts an incredible career plus-minus rating of plus-201.
With a total of 61 games under his belt in the 2019-20 season before the league put play on hold in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Bergeron had 31 goals, making it his sixth career 30-goal campaign, as well as his third straight. Perhaps unfortunately for his opponents, it seems this 34-year-old center is only getting better with age.
If the raw numbers are not enough to convince even the most skeptical Hall voter that Bergeron deserves a call, perhaps the laundry list of awards he’s received will earn him a few more votes. Most notably, he has won the Frank J. Selke Trophy, which is awarded annually to the NHL’s best defensive forward, four times. His Selke victories came in 2012, 2014, 2015 and 2017. “Bergy” has been a finalist for eight straight seasons.
In addition to his Selke success, Bergeron won the King Clancy Memorial Trophy in 2013. This award goes each year “to the player who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and has made a noteworthy humanitarian contribution in his community.” He also received the NHL Foundation Player Award in 2013 in recognition of his work with his teammates and in the community.
Leading the Way
So, we know Bergeron is a great player and a great guy, but he’s also a great leader. He’s in his 16th season of a career in the Spoked-B that began in 2003 and has been an assistant captain for 14 of those seasons. And, many expect him to inherit the captain’s “C” when teammate Zdeno Chara retires.
Of course, Bergeron also played a significant role in helping the Bruins win the Stanley Cup in 2011. In fact, his game-winning goal in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final helped him earn the final piece of the puzzle needed to become just the 26th member of the elite “Triple Gold Club,” an honor reserved for players who have won Olympic Gold, a World Championship and the Stanley Cup.
Although 2011 was the only time Bergeron has hoisted the Cup so far in his Bruins career, he helped guide the team’s return appearances to the Final in 2013 and 2019. In fact, the one game he may be best known for, at least among Boston hockey faithful, came in the first round of that 2013 playoff run in the final game of a series against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
With the B’s trailing 4-1 with 5:29 remaining in the third period, it looked like their campaign would soon be over. A Nathan Horton goal brought the Bruins to within two, though, and Milan Lucic scored to make things very interesting with 1:22 remaining in the game. As time was quickly expiring, Bergeron lit the lamp to tie things up and send the game to overtime.
With emotions already at a fever pitch after the wild ending to regulation play, Bergeron played the hero once again. He scored at the 6:05 mark of the overtime period to end the game and the series, stuffing the Leafs in a game for the ages.
For all of his goal-scoring prowess, faceoff mastery and defensive acumen, no story singing the praises of Bergeron would be complete without talking about his physical toughness. He has played through the most painful of injuries, ever the consummate team player.
In the earlier stages of his career, Bergeron missed significant time dealing with concussion-related issues. In fact, a concussion limited No. 37 to just 10 games played in the 2007-08 season. Of course, he still managed three goals, four assists and a plus-two rating in one of the most trying times of his career.
Strength in the face of adversity is a trait that has come to define Bergeron’s career. Even as recently as the currently halted 2019-20 campaign, the pivot of the media-dubbed “Perfection Line” played through much of the fall while nursing a groin injury that had reportedly plagued him for months.
At one point this season, load management was discussed to help Bergeron get through the season as comfortably as possible. He was eventually shut down for a few weeks. The extra rest seemed to work, as he returned looking much more like the scoring machine Bruins fans have come to expect as the months progressed.
“Playing through what he played through and his will to win. And that’s why he’s basically won every trophy a guy can win, that’s why he’s one of our main leaders in this hockey club. He’s shown how important of a player he is. And it was pretty inspirational to see him suck it up and play Game 6, and I think that’s why we had such a great start.”Former Bruin Milan Lucic, from a June 26, 2013 ESPN.com story
Speaking of playing through the pain, Bergeron revealed after the Bruins lost in the Cup Final to the Chicago Blackhawks in that unbelievable 2013 playoff run that he’d played with a fractured rib, torn cartilage, a punctured lung and a separated shoulder. Boston may have lost the series, but Bergeron persevered with his teammates to the bitter end.
Bergeron belongs in the Hockey Hall of Fame, plain and simple. He exemplifies everything that is great about the game: top-notch talent, toughness, leadership and love for his team and his community.
Of course, Bruins fans aren’t ready to even think about retirement for one of their favorite sons and one of the most special players they’ve had the pleasure to watch. So, for now, enjoy the show.