But Patrice Bergeron has seen change before, even in Boston. He’s been through seasons that seemed to be significant departures from those that came before.
He’s been through changes, and he has seen the success that has come as a result. So he’s not concerned about what is in store for the 2015-16 Bruins.
“It’s going to be different from the past few years,” Bergeron said following Wednesday’s informal skate at Ristuccia Arena. “I’ve been here a little longer, and there’s been some years before where [there] was complete change, so it is going to be different from the past few years — but still, I’ve been through that before, and I think it’s just about getting to know the guys on and off the ice and taking the time to do that.”
Bergeron led the first informal skate on Monday at Ristuccia, and he led it again on Wednesday, taking his teammates through about 80 minutes of drills, capped off by a few sets of sprints at the end. But the drills, obviously, aren’t what make these informal skates so valuable.
Especially after an offseason like this, the informal skates give leaders like Bergeron an opportunity to get to know some of his new teammates before the action begins for real at the opening of training camp.
“When you come out of a disappointing year like we did last year, you have to expect changes,” he said. “It’s definitely unfortunate. You don’t want that to happen, and it’s tough to see guys go, but at the same time, it is unfortunately part of the business, and I’m excited with the guys coming in.
“They’re happy to be here, they want to be here, and … I guess I’m excited. I’m looking forward to it. I’m looking forward to getting to know the new guys, and we still have a great group of veterans and guys that are still here who have been here over a lot of years, I guess, and we just need to jell quick, and find a way to do that.
“We can’t really rush it. Everyone’s got to feel comfortable, and it’s also our job as leaders and veteran guys to make guys feel comfortable, off the ice and even on, and make everyone realize that it’s about everyone. It’s not just one guy or two guys here. It’s about everyone going towards the same direction, if you want to have some results.”
That united sense of purpose is something that seemed to be missing, at times, from last year’s squad. Last year, Bergeron said, there seemed to be lapses when players perhaps got too comfortable, when they let their foot off the collective gas pedal.
This year, obviously, that can’t happen. As incoming General Manager Don Sweeney said during his introductory press conference back in May, the Bruins need to rediscover a way to cause anxiety in their opponents.
“I think sometimes, we were a little bit too passive, and letting teams attack us without us really trying to cause turnovers and going back on our toes and getting back on the puck,” Bergeron said. “So I think it is something that we definitely need to work on. I think it does fall into my style, I guess, and I like to do that, and it’s definitely something that I agree with.”
Since Sweeney assumed his new post in May, he and Bergeron have been in contact. They have talked about what was missing from last year’s team, what needs to be done in order to make sure that this last little bit of history won’t repeat itself.
Bergeron was happy to contribute his two cents; to him, it is part of his role as part of the leadership core of this team.
“Don reached out to me a few times during the summer just to go over some things, ask for my opinion on some things, but also just [to] ask about my summer and stuff like that,” Bergeron said. “He’s been very open with that, and I think he wants to be close to the players and I guess get to the bottom of all the issues that could affect the team.
“We’re all in this together, I guess we should say, and we’re trying to you know be a better team.”
This year’s crop of Bruins can all agree on something: Their offseason was far too long. There were too many weeks of summer, too many nights spent watching other teams as they continued their quest for supremacy.
Yes, it was nice to have a good chunk of time to recharge the batteries, as Bergeron put it. But it was too big a chunk.
“[I] definitely had more time that I would have wanted,” he said, “but [I] try to use that to my advantage and make sure I feel good, healthy and ready to go.”
The way Bergeron sees it, there are plenty of reasons to feel hopeful that last year’s problems won’t reappear this time around. For one thing, he said, there is some new personnel coming in with new perspectives, new energies and new skills.
Another reason for optimism, perhaps, is that long offseason. Not only was there enough time to recover properly, but there was also enough time to really ponder what went wrong and understand why those problems cannot compound.
Many of his teammates said it before him, but Bergeron echoed that consistency is one of those elements that was missing from last year’s team and must be present — every game, every day — moving forward.
“If you look at the end of the year,” he said, “[there were] too many points that we let slip by by being inconsistent — not just during stretches, in weeks, but in games also. It’s not just during the year, but also during games [when] ometimes, we were lacking consistency, and it was costing us huge points at the end that could have been the difference to get into the playoffs.”
Bergeron said this year, everyone on the roster — top to bottom — simply must want it. They must want to be the guy who makes the difference and they must want to win more than anything.
That, more than anything, could be the ultimate difference-maker.
“I think focus might have been part of it, but it’s hard to really pinpoint one thing that really caused that inconsistency, and we definitely have to fix that,” he said. “I think it’s going out in games and wanting to be the difference for the whole game, and I think it’s definitely something that we need to accomplish and resolve, I guess, early in order for us to be a better team.”