“It’s great to be back,” he said with a wide grin during Friday’s Media Day at the TD Banknorth Garden.
Sitting in his familiar number-37 jersey, in front of a locker that remained empty for most of the 2007-08 season, Bergeron looks older than his 23 years – and with good reason.
But these days, it’s clear that the Bruins alternate captain is enjoying a renaissance.
“I appreciate every day now, coming into the rink, having a chance to practice,” said Bergeron. “I (enjoyed it) before, but not I appreciate it even more and I am very happy to be back and I am eager to get started.”
Bergeron worked very hard in order to return to the Bruins this season and believes that his beloved Black & Gold have an opportunity to push Boston’s hockey calendar past its April 12, 2009 end date.
“I think we’re where we want to be right now,” said the Bruin. “But we can be an even better team, I think.
“It’s just a matter of clicking together."
|Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron pauses while answering a question in Boston, Thursday Feb. 28, 2008. Bergeron was knocked unconscious in his 10th game of the season when Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Randy Jones hit him from behind and smashed his face into the glass. As Bergeron lay on the ice, doctors cut away his jersey and pads, then carried him off on a stretcher. He was diagnosed with |
And despite a preseason record that might seem a tad mediocre, Bergeron, talking from the inside, sees something more than a sub-par exhibition docket.
“I think we’re playing well, and it’s just a matter of making a smart play, a simple play, more than we were doing,” he said. “It’s just going out there, playing as a team, and playing hard like we used to.
“We need to work hard and be sharp every game.”
The young Quebecois center, considered one of the brightest stars in hockey, knows how to work hard. As such, Bergeron’s expectations for himself are very high, but he knows the ultimate test is to play in NHL games.
“I’ve had all summer to work out and to skate and to feel better, but obviously there’s nothing like playing a real game, and those exhibition games gave me the chance to adjust and get the timing back,” said Bergeron. “I knew I needed some time to get my rhythm back…and I do feel good, I think that I met my expectations.
“I think that I’m playing the way I want to play, but I know I can be better, and it’s just a matter of taking the time to do it.”
Last year, Bergeron had way too much time on his hands and, going forward, that lonely process of recovery serves as a motivational tool.
“The first thing that comes to my mind is that not being able to play for eleven months, just having to watch the game,” said Patrice of his recovery. “It just made me appreciate the game even more, and being thankful for what I’m doing right now.
“I’m just happy to be here right now, happy to step on the ice during practice or a game or whatever, so I guess the main thing other than that, when you’re looking at a whole season in the press box, it’s more a matter of appreciating the game.”
And as he looked around the locker room and watched his teammates talk about the coming season, Bergeron’s smile grew ever wider.
“I appreciate every minute now,” said Patrice. “There are such good guys on this team and there some funny guys and some serious guys – we’ve got it all.
“So, it’s a treat every time I come to the rink now.”