In this edition of Boston Bruins News & Rumors, team captain Patrice Bergeron talked about his disappointment after the NHL decided to back out of the 2022 Winter Olympics. His teammate Brad Marchand made similar comments while also expressing his thoughts on how the league is handling COVID-19. In other news, goaltender Tuukka Rask is very close to returning and could sign a new deal any day now. Meanwhile, Zachary Senyshyn made headlines after requesting a trade.
Bergeron Planned on Attending Olympics
The NHL recently decided to pull out of the 2022 Winter Olympics, making it the second straight Olympics that will exclude NHLers. Some had serious doubts about heading to Beijing due to isolation protocols if a player tested positive for COVID-19. However, some, including Bergeron, were still heavily considering attending.
“I would’ve gone. It would have been my last chance to experience it,” Bergeron told reporters. “I was there twice. I was able to live it. I feel for the guys who haven’t had a chance, and this might’ve been their last chance to go. I really do. It’s disappointing as an athlete and as a competitor. You want to be a part of those events. I was fortunate enough to live it.
I was definitely thinking about it. I had some question marks about going over with what’s going on in the world with the outbreaks and all that and leaving my family behind. I had a discussion with my wife, and it was my last chance, and I wanted to be a part of it.”
Bergeron would have been a lock on Team Canada. However, at the age of 36, it seems extremely unlikely that he will be playing at this same elite level when the next opportunity comes around in 2026.
Marchand Frustrated by Olympic Decision and COVID Protocols
When Bergeron said he felt bad for the players who have never attended the Olympics and now may never get to, he had to have been partly referring to his teammate, Marchand. Despite being a top winger for years, Marchand has never had the chance to participate in the Olympics. He, too, was quite disappointed with the NHL’s decision.
“I know at the end of the day, they don’t care about the Olympics, they don’t make money on it, and that’s ultimately what this is,” Marchand said. “It’s a business, and we’re an asset. Let’s just call a spade a spade…It’s extremely disappointing that the players aren’t going. I think guys have worked their entire lives to put themselves in position to compete at that level and that opportunity. It should be guys’ decisions whether they choose to go or not, regardless of what’s happening in the world. If the Olympics are on and they’re playing, the best players in the world should have that option. It’s tough to deal with.”
That wasn’t all Marchand vented about, as he also spoke out about the league’s handling of the pandemic. While he realizes COVID is a serious issue, he doesn’t believe the league should be testing asymptomatic players, a sentiment that others around the league have agreed with as well.
“We can’t be doing this year in and year out and every day. At some point, we have to get back to some normalcy,” Marchand said. “Guys have done what they’re supposed to do, and we’re vaccinated and all that stuff. It’s to a point where we’ve got to get back to normal, and it’s not wrong. Other leagues have gone to the testing if you have symptoms, otherwise, if you’re asymptomatic, you just go about your day, and we definitely have to get to that. The NBA is there. The NFL is going there now, and we’re going to get there soon. It needs to get there soon. We can’t continually have hold-ups in the league. If guys are fine, there’s no reason they shouldn’t be able to play. Hopefully, we can get there soon.”
It’s worth noting that head coach Bruce Cassidy recently confirmed that no Bruins players who were placed on the NHL’s COVID protocol list had major symptoms if any. As more and more players begin to speak up about this, the league may be pressured into relaxing some of their testing procedures.
Rask Expected to Return Soon
Speaking with the media on Sunday, Cassidy was forced to answer questions about the COVID-19 outbreak on his team. However, there was another interesting topic, which was Rask. The 34-year-old netminder has yet to play a game this season after undergoing hip surgery in the summer, but that could soon change.
“We had to make a determination if we’re on the road, we’re travelling, one of those is a day off, how are we going to get him what he needs and still take care of us, right?” Cassidy explained. “That was being discussed. If he didn’t go with us, where is he getting work? Is it Providence? I think that was the week they were saying any time after that he may be ready to go if his doctors clear him to play.”
Rask is still technically an unrestricted free agent. However, he has been on record saying he only wants to play for the Bruins, and it sounds as though the team wants him back as well. His return could also mean Jeremy Swayman is sent down to the American Hockey League (AHL). In 24 games last season, Rask posted a 2.28 goals-against average along with a .913 save percentage.
Senyshyn Requests Trade
Hopes were high for Senyshyn, the Bruins’ 15th overall selection in the 2015 NHL Draft, as many believed he had what it took to develop into a top-six forward. Unfortunately, the 24-year-old has logged just 14 career NHL games, spending most of his time in the AHL. As a result, he requested a trade through his agent this past week in hopes of finding a new opportunity.
“It’s been a long journey with Boston and Providence. Obviously, I’m super thankful to everyone in Providence for all of their help in the development of my game, but I want to play in the NHL. I feel like I haven’t been given that opportunity in the Bruins organization,” Senyshyn said to Mark Divver.
Senyshyn, who is on a one-year deal with a cap hit of $750,000, has spent the entire 2021-22 season in Providence. In 21 games, he has eight goals and 13 points.
“I feel like my game has gotten to that level where I’m ready to play, and I’m ready to make an impact. With the way the Bruins organization has been going, it just doesn’t seem like I’m in the mix. I just feel like I need a fresh start. With all of the backlash with the media, considering where I was drafted and everything going on there, it’s just been a lot emotionally. I feel as though a fresh start is best.”
Senyshyn’s trade request is more proof of the awful job done by Bruins management at the 2015 Draft. They were in a great spot with three first-round picks but used them on Senyshyn, Jakub Zboril, and Jake DeBrusk, who has also recently requested a trade. We have to wonder how much better this team could be had the organization done a better job.
Up Next for the Bruins
After the league shut down games through Christmas, the Bruins haven’t played since Dec. 16. That is expected to change soon, as they return to the ice on New Year’s Day versus the Buffalo Sabres, followed by a game the next night versus the Detroit Red Wings. They will look to pick up a couple of wins and get back into the thick of things in the Pacific Division, where they are fifth.
Colton Pankiw is a former Jr. A hockey player who now provides his knowledge of the game through writing. He’s been a very active and reliable source for nearly two years at The Hockey Writers. He is a credentialed writer for the Calgary Flames but also does features on other teams throughout the league. Other writing contributions include: Oil On Whyte, NHLtradetalk.com, and Markerzone.com. Colton is also a co-host of both Oilers Overtime and Flames Faceoff podcasts. Any interview requests or content info can be made through him on Twitter. Take a look at his work here.