PLYMOUTH, Mass. — Patrice Bergeron said he does not plan to make a decision on re-signing with the Boston Bruins until after this season, when the center’s contract is scheduled to expire.
“I’m going to play out this year, and then talk about that after,” the Bruins captain said Wednesday.
The Bruins have said they want the 36-year-old to return next season. General manager Don Sweeney said Aug. 6 that Boston has had talks with Bergeron about a contract extension and that however long the center wants to stay with the Bruins is up to him.
Bergeron, who can become an unrestricted free agent, has played all 17 of his NHL seasons with Boston, which selected him in the second round (No. 45) of the 2003 NHL Draft.
“That’s something that a lot of people have asked me this summer,” Bergeron said, referring to his NHL future. “I think for me, the way that I approach this year is I want to concentrate on this year. I have a year left on my contract, and I think it’d be useless of me to think about the future.
“I think I want to create something special, as I said. We obviously want to work towards winning a Stanley Cup. I know everyone says that, but it’s definitely our goal as a team. And I think we always are competitive to be in that group of teams. So I think that’s where that’s where my focus is at right now.”
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Bergeron scored 48 points (23 goals, 25 assists) in 54 regular-season games last season and nine points (four goals, five assists) in 11 Stanley Cup Playoff games. The Bruins defeated the Washington Capitals in five games in the best-of-7 Stanley Cup First Round before losing in six games to the New York Islanders in the second round.
Bergeron signed an eight-year, $55 million contract ($6.875 million average annual value) on July 12, 2013. He was named the 20th captain in Bruins history Jan. 7, 2021, taking over for Zdeno Chara, who signed with the Washington Capitals as a free agent.
Bergeron helped the Bruins win the Stanley Cup in 2011 and also reach the Stanley Cup Final in 2013 and 2019. He has scored 917 points (375 goals, 542 assists) in 1,143 games, including 48 points (23 goals, 25 assists) in 54 games last season, and has won the Selke Trophy voted as the best defensive forward in the NHL four times, tied with Bob Gainey of the Montreal Canadiens for the most in NHL history.
The Bruins lost another piece of their core this offseason when center David Krejci opted to return to his native Czech Republic to play. They are also without goalie Tuukka Rask, who had surgery in July for a torn labrum in his right hip and is an unrestricted free agent. Rask has said that he will only play in the NHL for the Bruins, and he may re-sign with them during the season depending on how his rehab goes.
“It’s part of life, I guess,” Bergeron said of the roster turnover. “Everything matures and changes and you try to go along and try to ride that wave. We have some players that have been around for a while and they’re getting older, but also some younger players that are taking a bigger role, whether it’s on the ice or off the ice in the locker room.
“I think you want to make them understand that it’s going to become their team at some point soon and that they have to take some more responsibilities and whatnot. I’ve always said that I believe in leadership by committee and I think it can’t just be about one or two guys, it has to be a lot of guys.”
Whether or not Bergeron plays for the Bruins beyond this season, they eventually will have a transition.
“Just got to try to add to that leadership and take a step up on that front,” defenseman Matt Grzelcyk said. “‘Bergy’ and [forward Brad Marchand] have been part of that for a long time now. And they handle that very well. But they, over the years now, have tried to grow us younger guys, so to speak, into more of that leadership role and make us more comfortable.
“Eventually there’s going to be some sort of turnover. So definitely want to make sure you’re prepared to take a step in the right direction.”