Wilmington, Mass. -- On Friday, September 7th, Patrice Bergeron sat in his corner locker room stall trying to cool down from what had been a pretty intense pre-preseason workout and scrimmage.
Oddly enough, a slight grin remained on his face despite the now cramped quarters of the locker room and the beads of perspiration that rained down from his head.
"It feels great," said Bergeron when asked it was good to be back. "I got here (Thursday) and it was good to have a chance to see all the guys again, have a chance to talk and see how their summers have been going.
"It was a long summer, and it's nice to be back."
It was a long summer -- especially since the Bruins were not eligible for the postseason
Even for a casual observer, it should be obvious that Bergeron took that DNQ quite personally. In fact, during the first two informal sessions he attended, it looked as if Bergeron were trying to put the Bruins into the playoffs by himself -- taking the puck to the net, working the play around the perimeter of the offensive zone and not wanting to take any shifts off.
"During the first practice you never want to come off the ice," said Patrice. "You want to stay out there -- it felt good.
"Obviously I was tired afterward, but it's all good, because it's fun to be back."
It might have been fun, but Bergeron still looked like he was working pretty hard. He admitted that returning to town had been on his mind for several weeks and that being away from the Bruins, and remaining at home in Canada, had begun to make him "itchy."
"It was nice to see the family and friends because I don’t have that much time during the year, so it's nice to do that during the summer," he said. "But at the same time, when August comes you are itchy to come back, see the guys and get the season started.
"And turn the page on last year."
There's no doubt that few people felt the sting of last year's issues more than Bergeron. Last year, having received an "A" for his efforts, he believed that he could help the B's take the next step. This season, the generally quiet Bergeron thinks he might try some different things this season.
"It's in me to lead by example," explained Patrice of his generally soft-spoken nature. "I'll do that (again) and try to work hard at every practice and during games.
"And I'll try to improve, like I try to do every year.
"But I've learned from last year, my first year as an assistant captain, and now it's time for me to step up, and when it's needed, talk and be demonstrative when it is time to say something."
Speaking to his own game, Bergeron believes he can bring something to the proverbial table.
"I am hoping that I can have an impact on the team," he said. "Everyone hopes that they can do that.
"Everyone wants to bring everything that they can.
"I am going to try and do that as well," Bergeron said.
But Bergeron, like some of the other veterans in the room, cautioned that one person can't turn the whole thing around on their own.
"We have to do it together," said Patrice. "We have to get this thing going, look toward the playoffs and try to get in this year."
Bergeron also said that the fans can help, too.
"Obviously we need their support," said Bergeron. "Boston's such a great sports town.
"And it's great to be able to play in front of our fans -- it gives us emotion and intensity and increases our level of play.
"But we know that as players on this team that we have a job to do and, in order to get them back and get them excited, we need to get some wins under our belt and make a run at it…that's our goal."