This time around in 2016, he’s back in Music City as an NHL All-Star, 13 years after he was drafted 45th overall by Boston at the same arena in 2003.
“Brought back some memories, coming back here,” Bergeron said during Friday’s NHL-All Star Media Day at Bridgestone Arena. “I think it’s 13 years later now, so it’s definitely special and looking back, I never thought I’d be here that many years later at an All-Star Game, so it’s definitely a lot of fun.”
For the second consecutive season, Bergeron is taking in the All-Star experience. His first foray came in 2015 in Columbus.
“It means a lot,” he said. “It’s a true honor, just to be named to the All-Star Game and try to enjoy the moment and really take advantage of the whole weekend and try to have fun with it.”
It’s a unique experience for Bergeron this time around as well, given that he was able to bring his family along.
“Yeah, little Zack made the trip and pretty excited about that, actually — happy that my family is along with me and along for the ride,” he said. “And to be able to spend some good, quality family time with them as much as possible.”
“[On Thursday], we went out for a few hours in the afternoon just to walk around. It’s a cool atmosphere around here with the live music and the live bands, and the restaurants, so it’s definitely a lot of fun.”
While the rest of his Bruins’ teammates are getting in some much-needed relaxation time for the next few days, Bergeron will spend the days fulfilling media obligations and gearing up for Saturday and Sunday’s festivities.
He’ll still find plenty of time to relax, though.
“Well, we’re in Nashville, so that helps a lot,” he smiled. “It’s kind of one of those things where it’s great to have live bands, live music all day and you don’t see it anywhere else in North America"
"So it’s special in its own sense and my family’s here — my wife and my kid’s here, so just try to spend some time with them and go for walks and just try to enjoy the whole weekend and soak everything in and have fun with it.”
“I’m happy to be here.”
For the second straight year, Bergeron will compete in the DraftKings NHL Accuracy Shooting competition, as well as a passer for one-timers in the Gatorade NHL Skills Challenge Relay, when the 2016 Honda NHL All-Star Skills Competition action kick off on Saturday (7:00 p.m ET, NBCSN).
Other competitions include fastest skater, breakaway challenge, hardest shot and a shootout. The event will pit the Eastern Conference against the Western Conference.
Last year, he studied Ray Bourque’s approach to the Accuracy Shooting competition.
“I should probably do that, and maybe look at my footage from last year — and see where it went wrong,” Bergeron laughed. “ But it’s one of those things where I’m trying to have fun and last year was the first, I didn’t really know what to expect. This year, I know a little bit more, so I’m going to try and enjoy the moment and hopefully do well.”
New 3-on-3 Format
The new format for the 2016 Honda NHL All-Star Game transforms the midseason showcase into a 3-on-3 tournament.
Last year, Bergeron was drafted to “Team Foligno” — his team dropped a 17-12 decision to “Team Toews.”
This time around, instead of one game, there will be three 20-minute contests, with players from each division making up the four All-Star teams: Atlantic, Central, Metropolitan and Pacific. The winning team of the inter-division tournament will take home $1 million.
Each team is made up of 11 players from each division: six forwards, three defensemen and two goaltenders (44 total players). Teams will change ends at the 10-minute mark of each game. Games that are tied after 20 minutes will be decided by a shootout.
Bergeron’s squad from the Atlantic Division will face the Metropolitan Division in the semifinal, while the Central Division will face the Pacific Division. The winners of each semifinal game will play each other in the final to determine the overall tournament champion.
“I think it’s going to be exciting. I think it’s going to be fun for the fans,” said Bergeron. “We play five minutes after a 60-minute game usually. Now it’s 20 minutes, but we should have fresh legs, so I just don’t know what the difference will be. I think it’s going to be exciting and looking forward to it.”
No matter what, Bergeron will still find a way to play his two-way game.
“[As far as] my game with it — I think it’s one of those things where 3-on-3, you can’t really hide, right? Your coverage is there and you can’t really miss it,” he said. “Obviously you don’t want to look bad so you want to play well at both sides of the rink and that’s what I like to do, so I’m going to try to do that and have fun with it all weekend and definitely prepare for the game as well.”
The truth is: Bergeron will never change his game, even if it’s for a 3-on-3 All-Star game.
“I guess, the last few years, I guess [I’ve gotten] recognized more, but I’ve always said that I wouldn’t change my style or the way that I play,” he said. “No matter what.”
Bergeron’s Atlantic Division Team
Forwards: Patrice Bergeron, Jaromir Jagr (Florida — Captain), Leo Komarov (Toronto), Dylan Larkin (Detroit), Ryan O’Reilly (Buffalo), Steven Stamkos (Tampa Bay)
Defensemen: Aaron Ekblad (Florida), Erik Karlsson (Ottawa), P.K. Subban (Montreal)
Goalies: Ben Bishop (Tampa Bay), Roberto Luongo (Florida)
Head Coach: Gerrard Gallant (Florida)
Celebrity Coach: TBA — Country music stars Dierks Bentley, Vince Gill, Charles Kelley and Chris Young will serve as celebrity coaches for the 2016 Honda NHL All-Star Game. It has not yet been announced which teams the stars will be coaching.
“It’s going to be fun,” Bergeron said, on the unique situation of being teammates with his regular season rivals. “I think there’s a few guys like Jagr that I know and Luongo I played with at the Olympics, so there’s guys that I’ve met before.”
“And it will be nice to see them in a more laid back situation and meet some of the other guys as well. It will be fun, and hopefully we can be a good team for that game.”
NHL All-Star Weekend Rundown
Saturday, January 30
— NHL All-Star Red Carpet Arrivals — 4:00 - 5:00 p.m. ET (3:00 - 4:00 p.m.) local time)
— 2016 Honda NHL All-Star Skills Competition — 7:00 p.m ET (6:00 p.m. local time) on NBCSN (CBC, SN, TVAS in Canada)
— Bergeron’s skills assignments: DraftKings NHL Accuracy Shooting, Gatorade NHL Skills Challenge Relay (one-time passer)
Sunday, January 31
— 2016 Honda NHL All-Star Game — 5:00 p.m. ET (4:00 p.m. local time) on NBCSN (CBC, TVAS in Canada)
*Follow along with NHL-All Star coverage on BostonBruins.com, the Bruins Mobile App, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram @NHLBruins, as well as Periscope and Snapchat. Use the hashtags #NHLAllStar and #WeekendWithBergy to join in the conversation.