Patrice Bergeron is wheeled off the ice as concerned teammates look on. (Babineau)
Wilmington, MA --
By all accounts, the Black & Gold's Peter Chiarelli is an even-tempered person.
A former captain of the Harvard University hockey team, a lawyer, a former player agent, and a respected executive in the National Hockey League, Chiarelli relies on intelligence, smart judgment, preparation and an even keel in an effort to ply his trade.
|Philadelphia Flyers' Randy Jones (6) hits Boston Bruins Patrice Bergeron (partially obscured) in the first period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, Oct. 27, 2007, in Boston. Bergeron went down and was taken out on a stretcher. (AP Photo.Michael Dwyer) |
But , like everyone, the second year Bruins general manager has his breaking point, and the pundits who have intimated that forward Patrice Bergeron
had any culpability for his harrowing and near-life threatening injury, received via hit from Randy Jones last Saturday against Philadelphia, have made him snap.
Speaking from a corner office above Ristuccia Memorial Arena, the articulate (if not necessarily talkative) Bruins GM had trouble composing complete sentences as he addressed the media members gathered about him after the B's short practice Friday morning.
As he alternated between biting on his lip and pontificating, Peter looked just about ready to spit.
"About Patrice," said Chiarelli, shaking his head.. "At some point he will speak to you guys…and I don’t know how soon that will be.
"I spoke with him this morning
"He is still in pretty rough shape. He is 'foggy' and after a certain amount of time talking to him he gets tired," he said.
Those statements were pretty upsetting to hear, since Bergeron is considered one of the most physically fit members of the squad and the media members in the room remained silent as the GM explained his situation.
One of the strongest players on the club, the young center owns a physique that would make a body builder jealous.
|Randy Jones skates away after colliding with Boston's Bergeron. |
To hear that simply talking on the phone makes him tired, left everyone scared for him.
"Have you seen it? Have you been following it?" asked Chiarelli, changing the subject slightly as he cut to the chase and began to take aim at the commentators who have laid the blame at the skates of Bergeron for his own injuries.
Assured that the members of the press in the room had been reading and hearing those hockey pundits, Chiarelli addressed his audience.
"The terms that I have been using (are) ludicrous and absurd," said the GM of those statements. "I am angry at some of the takes these guys have been taking.
"They're saying that (Patrice) is partially at fault for this.
"It angers me. It angers the Bruins organization that they would actually say that it was his fault in this case," he said.
After dozens of viewings, and employing years of hockey experience, Chiarelli believes his assistant captain acted appropriately and consistent with his training.
"To say that he should have been more careful retrieving the puck, to me, is absurd.
"He went in there hard," continued Chiarelli. "(But) he is not a reckless player.
|Bergeron, left, lies on the ice after being hit. |
"If he had gone in any other way, people would have called him afraid...So, I am angry, the Bruins organization is angry and I want to make that known," he said.
Chiarelli explained that many people throughout hockey might not know just how hurt Patrice remains.
"He's been seriously injured," he reitterated. "It just seems to me that it has been swept under the carpet.
"He could not attend the (function and recieve an important humanitarian award) the other night for the Children's Hospital.
"He can't go more that two or three minutes of talking. He has trouble sleeping. He is still wearing a collar.
"The other day they had to wheel him into the Garden in a wheelchair because he couldn't walk that far (even though he lives scant footsteps from the building).
"He could be out a month. He could be out two months, he could be out a year. All players react differently to concussions. But (his) is a grade three concussion…he was a fraction of an inch from receiving an injury that was life threatening.
"And (at one point) it was assumed that he had
broken his neck."
Thank God for the young man's work ethic -- it probably saved Patrice's life.
|Bergeron, right, is atteded to. |
"But for his (conditioning), he is very strong in his traps and his shoulders and the neck, he probably would have broken his neck," continued Chiarelli who then took even sharper aim at members of the media who have been shortsighted in their coverage.
"I want to (reiterate) our anger and dismay at these outlets," he continued. "I want to be sure that they see our point of view, Patrice's point of view, his family's point of view.
"Patrice had (family members) who were watching that game that thought he was dead.
"So there is a large impact on the victim and his family, here, that is going unnoticed," he said.
Asked if these concerns were addressed at a league level, Chiarelli said they had been, but that he will not retrace those steps.
"They have a process that they go through to dispense justice and they use it," he said. "I respect the process.
"I've said -- we've said
-- we are disappointed with the decision, and I am going to leave it at that."
It's those people who blame Patrice, the victim, which so angers the GM and his staff.
"If he would have went in there skating backwards (looking out for himself) he would have been called a (wimp).
"How would (they) expect him to go after the puck.
"You assume a lot of risk (playing hockey), but you don't assume that you are going to be driven from behind like that.
"Patrice has been playing hockey his whole life. He is a tough kid.
"My objective here is two things: One, to set the record straight (in regards) to those who say that Patrice is at fault here, which I think is ridiculous. Two, to really show the magnitude of his injuries, because they are quite serious.
"There is the concussion. That's serious. And there's the broken nose. That's serious.
"But he almost broke his neck," said Chiarelli, almost incredulously.
"I just wanted to get on record," said Chiarelli in relative summation, "Because if you look at some of the stuff that has come out, it's been ridiculous."
From everyone in the Garden. Get well soon, Patrice. (file photo from last year's Wives Carnival)