BOSTON - Patrice Bergeron has made a career on not settling. Four Selke Trophies and a Stanley Cup championship won't do anything to slow his drive to improve.
And neither will offseason surgery. Almost four months removed from a procedure to repair a sports hernia, Bergeron is itching to get the 2017-18 season underway.
"You always want to push your limits and be better," Bergeron said following Bruins captain's practice at Warrior Ice Arena on Thursday. I guess it's offensively, but also defensively, and in every aspect of the game. I guess that's always my approach.
"I don't want to tell you one thing, I want to work on many things."
Bergeron returned to the ice in late July - some 10 weeks after his surgery - and has been improving steadily with each passing day. On Thursday, he joined teammates Noel Acciari, Matt Beleskey, Brandon Carlo, Matt Grzelcyk, Emil Johansson, Torey Krug, Jeremy Lauzon, Adam McQuaid, Kevan Miller, and Malcolm Subban for an informal skate.
"Still doing some rehab, but I'll be ready for camp…I feel good," said Bergeron, who spent a large part of the summer rehabbing and working out at the team's practice facility. "There's still some restriction there that I have to work on, but overall I feel pretty good on the ice and I feel good in the gym. We definitely still have to do some treatments, but [I] definitely feel good and I know I'll be ready for camp."
Video: Bergeron speaks at captain's practice
The reigning Selke Trophy winner admitted that he was, at times, restricted in his skating ability last season, particularly early in the year as he adjusted to playing with pain. Eventually, though, Bergeron found somewhat of a physical comfort zone, allowing him to settle into his game.
"[The mental side] was the one thing that was difficult," said Bergeron. "You know it's there and it's annoying. It's one of those that you have to battle through it. But you still know, no matter what, that it's still going to be there.
"It was hard that way, and I think it was in my head a little bit. But once I was past that hurdle of, I guess, realizing that it was going to be there for the whole year…I felt better.
"That being said it's not an excuse for the slow start that I had and not scoring, missing some chances."
Despite battling through the injury, Bergeron tallied 21 goals and 32 assists in 79 games, while leading the NHL in faceoffs won (1,089). He believes entering this season at full health will allow him to be freer on the ice.
"It's mostly just not having any pain," said Bergeron, who is embarking on his 14th NHL season. "Being able to skate, having full stride, and not having to think about it and not having to warm up, having the muscle warm up for 15-20 minutes and then being ready…so it's definitely going to help for my skating."
When it comes to what he expects from a team perspective this season, Bergeron said he is intrigued by Boston's young talent and is eager to see what some of the prospects may be able to add to the lineup.
"It's a good thing to have," said Bergeron. "That youth movement coming our way, it's something you always wish for and you want, especially now with the cap situation and the direction the league is going.
"It's a fast game, fast pace and having young legs and speed is definitely beneficial for any team."
Bergeron is also looking forward to having Bruce Cassidy at the helm for a full season.
"Knowing what to expect is always nice, knowing what Bruce is all about and his system and the changes that he wanted to make last year," said Bergeron. "It's definitely going to be helpful to start the year with him and carry what we've done last year and hopefully we can do some great things as soon as the season starts."