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#ProspectTBT: Patrice Bergeron

by Caryn Switaj / Boston Bruins
Patrice Bergeron has heard his name called on numerous occasions.

It happens at home games during the season when he’s announced as one of the Three Stars of the Game, which happens frequently. He hears his name announced at league events, like the NHL Awards or the NHL All-Star Game. He has heard it for various accolades throughout his 13 years as a Bruin.

There is one moment — that technically started it all — that will always stick out for Bergeron: the time he heard his name announced on June 21, 2003.

On that day, the then 18-year-old, from L’Ancienne-Lorette, Quebec City, was selected 45th overall by the Boston Bruins in the second round of the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, in Nashville, Tenn.

“It was a stressful day, but also a fun day to be part of with my family,” Bergeron recalls. “I was trying to enjoy everything. At the same time, my nerves kind of took over — but it was a fun experience.”

Bergeron would go on to rack up 820 NHL games (and counting), along with 238 goals and 380 assists for 618 points through the 2015-16 season. He would become a Stanley Cup Champion, NHL All-Star, five-time finalist and three-time winner of the Frank J. Selke Trophy as the league’s top defensive forward. He would find himself on the cover of EA Sports NHL.

All of it can be traced back to that 18-year-old, and the dream that began when he slipped on the Spoked-B jersey for the first time in 2003.

Just a few months after Bergeron was drafted, he reported to Boston for the team’s rookie camp. Back then, there was no development camp and introduction to the organization. The first Bruins Development Camp would later kick off in 2007, thanks to the Bruins’ Assistant General Manager at the time, Don Sweeney.

“We had rookie camp right before the start of regular camp, so I was up with prospects and guys that were playing in Providence and the level of play was already high,” Bergeron remembered. “But once the veterans and the regulars came, I was shocked with the pace and the difference that it made, so I was definitely intimidated a bit early on.”

“I was trying to be myself on the ice and I guess let my skill speak for itself and find my ground. But it was definitely a wakeup call, seeing all of these guys, the way the were handling themselves and also playing,” he said.

Not many players make the big club in the year in which they are drafted. That honor is only reserved for a handful of players, often taken in the first round.

Bergeron was the exception in 2003-04.

The following season, in 2004-05, the NHL faced a year-long lockout. By default, Bergeron suited up for the AHL’s Providence Bruins. Who’s to say what would have happened if the lockout didn’t commence, but the center considers that season integral in his development.

“It was great. I thought it was a perfect timing for me to get to know some of the younger guys in the organization, but also get better in English, keep grasping the language and staying in the U.S. and close to Boston,” said Bergeron. “So it was fun, it was a great experience and I thought I learned a lot that year.”

Some aspects of Bergeron have changed since then. He has gotten rid of the longer hair, or the bleach blonde hair that he and his Providence teammates sported during the 2005 Calder Cup Playoffs.

Anyone who has followed the centerman’s illustrious career knows that there is much that hasn’t changed about him: his consistency, leadership and character on and off the ice.

“It’s kind of crazy to think that it’s been over a decade already and it’s been quite a ride,” said Bergeron. “It’s been fun. Obviously my best memories will always be 2011 and hopefully there’s some more in front of us.”

“But friendships — I think that is the one thing that comes up first in my mind, is the friends that I’ve made, the people I’ve met. It’s very special, it means a lot, and I feel very blessed.”

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