The news that Bruins fans have dreaded for months hit them like a ton of bricks on Twitter at 10 o'clock this morning. What many suspected after the Bs Game 7 loss to Florida in the first round, largely because of the extra layers of emotion on display from the team, became a hard truth.
When I was around 12 years old a teacher asked everyone in my class to write about our dreams. For me, my dream was already clear: to become a professional hockey player.
I was probably a little naive growing up, because in my mind this dream was never a question of if, but when it would happen. The path to making my dreams come true was not easy. I faced adversity and made so many sacrifices, but throughout it all my love for the game only grew and my determination to achieve my goals always remained strong.
For the last 20 years I have been able to live my dream every day. I have had the honor of playing in front of the best fans in the world wearing the Bruins uniform and representing my country at the highest levels of international play. I have given the game everything that I have physically and emotionally, and the game has given me back more than I could have ever imagined.
It is with a full heart and a lot of gratitude that today I am announcing my retirement as a professional hockey player.
Patrice Bergeron, the quintessential hockey player who first pulled on the black and gold as an 18-year-old kid, retired a day after turning 38 and giving the Boston Bruins organization his heart-and-soul for 20 professional seasons. He played 1466 games as a Bruin, won the Selke Trophy a record six times, and the Stanley Cup in 2011. Bergy also won the everlasting love and respect from not only his adopted hometown here in Boston but around the entire NHL due to the way he conducted himself on and off the ice.
Bruins fans will be even sadder this summer than they have been. But we shouldn't be. We should feel blessed that we had this modern-day Jean Ratelle for as long as we did, particularly after that nightmarish day at TDG early in the 2007 season. I was in the building when Philly's Randy Jones recklessly checked Bergeron headfirst into the glass, causing him to drop to the ice in a heap and stunning 17,000 people into an eerie, scared silence. I had never before witnessed so many people remain mute for such a long time because we all feared the worst.
Bergy suffered a brutal concussion and broken nose while his playing future was unsure. Fortunately, he returned the next season and busted his ass to return to the standard he set prior to the injury. Three years and eight months after he was stretchered off the ice, Patrice Bergeron was a Stanley Cup champion, scoring two goals in Game 7 including the Cup-clincher. He returned to the SCF two years later and though the Bs lost to Chicago, Bergeron's legend grew when it was revealed he had played with more injuries than Monty Python's Black Knight.
He won his sixth Selke Trophy in Nashville a few weeks ago as the NHL's "forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game". Former coach Claude Julien said that he prevented more goals than he scored (477 including playoffs) and that he was the best two-way player he ever had. I'm hardly the first person to make this suggestion and I mean no disrespect to Frank J. Selke but the NHL really ought to rename the trophy after Bergeron. He epitomized, for 19 NHL seasons, what it meant to be a two-way player, paying as much attention to the defensive side as the offensive. Selke won nine Cups as a Hall of Fame GM for two Original Six teams and the league named the award after him though he never played hockey.
Bergeron played the game the right way all the time. Parents would instruct their kids to 'watch #37 and do exactly what he does'. I remember drunkenly telling him on Boylston St. at the 2005 Boston Marathon that he needed to "show Joe (Thornton) the way" as he looked at me quizzically. He left tens of millions of dollars on the table because he put his team and winning above all else. He always represented the team and city with his class and respect for the game and its personnel. Bergy was the perfect player and the perfect teammate. He left everything he had on the ice and it's only a matter of time before his #37 joins the other legendary Bruins in the rafters.
Patrice, thank you for everything that you did for us, the city, and the Boston Bruins. You'll be loved here forever. We're sad to see you go but so damn happy we had you for as long as we did. Congratulations on a dynamite career and enjoy your well-earned retirement. We'll see you in Toronto in 2026.