Boston, MA --
|Fans cheer as Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron is introduced during the Bruins' home opener, against the Pittsburgh Penguins in an NHL hockey game in Boston, Monday, Oct. 20, 2008. Bergeron was sidelined for most last season after suffering a concussion in a game against Philadelphia in October. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa) |
Since his season-ending concussion nearly a year ago – October 27, to be exact – much has been written about Patrice Bergeron
: his injury, recovery and journey back to the rink.
But the 23-year old forward wants to close the door on that chapter of his hockey career.
“He doesn’t want the extra attention – he just wants to play hockey,” said Bruins goalie Tim Thomas
, quite succinctly. “Inside the locker room…he’s a regular teammate, which is exactly where he wanted to be.”
Bergeron himself said he doesn’t think his injury changed his game at all.
From the start, he knew he would be back.
“I always knew I was the same player,” he said. “Coming into training camp, it was just a matter of getting the rhythm and the timing back.”
He did say, however, that having to take a year off from “(his) passion, (his) love” was just as hard as working to make it back on the ice.
“I appreciate it even more now that I’ve been away for so long,” he said. “To come back, I enjoy every day of it, and it’s a lot of fun.”
The B’s as a whole appreciate having their teammate back as well.
“It’s been like another signing,” said Marc Savard
. “He’s a great hockey player, and he’s just going to keep getting better all season.”
Head coach Claude Julien attributed some of the team’s improvement this season to Bergeron – “his leadership and his work ethic and the way he’s battled back,” he said.
|Ottawa Senators' Anton Volchenkov, right, hits Boston Bruins' Patrice Bergeron during first period NHL hockey action at the Scotiabank Place in Ottawa on Saturday, Oct. 18, 2008. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Sean Kilpatrick) |
The coaching staff knows, however, that Bergeron wants that first goal.
“We’re extremely pleased he’s creating opportunities, he’s in the right spots,” said Julien, “and right now, he just needs that confidence to score on a regular basis.”
But Bergeron has helped out with five assists, including two in the season opener against Colorado – his first official game back.
From the Black & Gold’s first pre-season game against Detroit, Thomas knew his teammate would be just fine.
“I happened to be in the stands, so I could watch it even better than normal,” he explained, “and I could see a little bit of hesitation in the first period.
“Then, in the second period, I saw a couple of crisp passes like he used to do, and I saw the confidence rise,” Thomas continued.
“And in the third period, it was the old Bergy.”
And that is just what Bergeron wanted.