Boston, MA --Patrice Bergeron is a very polite, even-keeled person, but it won’t be long before his patience for questions like, “How are you feeling?” or, “Do you feel 100%?” or, “Are you happy to be back?” will start to wane.
In fact, that time might already be here.
“No, I don’t feel I need to prove anything to myself,” said Bergeron on Saturday afternoon. “I worked very hard all summer to get my strength back, and here I am, feeling good.”
Ah…The first practice of the year. Finally last season is officially last season, and Bergeron can concentrate on continuing his very promising young career. Earlier this week, Bergeron pronounced himself 100% and rejoined his teammates for their informal skates.
“I’m very optimistic,” he said to the large number of media standing in front of his locker. “I was even [optimistic] before getting in here for training camp.
“We have a pretty similar roster, and with what we’ve done over the summer, I’m very excited and happy to get started.
“I know there’s a lot of talent in this room, and we just have to put it together on the ice,” said Bergeron.
Patrice’s teammates know exactly what they have on their side now that the forward is back.
“It’s great (to have Bergeron back). I missed him and the whole team missed him,” said Marco Sturm. “He’s an awesome guy and an awesome player and you can tell that he’s ready to go.
“We’re all excited to have him back."
Bergeron’s coaches concur.
“Everybody would have loved to see him last year also, but unfortunately that wasn’t the case, but probably the biggest thing I take from [his being back] is that we’ve got a guy who’s healthy and who’s passed that test,” said Bruins head coach Claude Julien. “That’s the most important thing, and after having said that, now you’ve got yourself a pretty good hockey player as well.
“Last year, there was no question on us even pushing to try and get him back earlier or even taking a chance with him.
“He’s the one individual that has too much ahead of him to be able to gamble with his future,” he said.
Considering where the center was after his injury, Julien believes that the club was correct in their handling of their young superstar.
“I think we’re better off for it today, he’s better off for it today, and I just hope he bounces back extremely well,” said the Bruins coach. “And if he does that, there’s no doubt he’s a key player on our hockey team, both on the ice and off the ice.”
Today, Bergeron sounds like a man who simply wants to play hockey and close a dark chapter in his life. Reveling in the new season, the first practice and his team is one clear way to move on.
“It was a good practice, and the level of the tempo was very good,” he said. “Obviously, it’s our first practice, though, so we need to get our timing back and get up to speed again.
“It was a good first practice, but I’m glad it’s behind me now, so we can continue to look forward.”
Now, maybe everyone else can look in that direction, too.