MONTREAL – This Friday, Marc-Andre Bergeron will head back to his Junior roots to see his familiar No. 21 sent to the rafters in Shawinigan. The Cataractes are retiring the speedy blue-liner’s jersey in honor of his two and a half fruitful years with the club.
“This is really special for me. I remember all those hours I spent practicing in that arena when I was younger,” recalled the Trois-Rivieres native. “I’d look up at the ceiling and see all of the retired jerseys hanging there and it really made an impression on me.”
His time with the Cataractes seems to have had as big an impact on the organization as it did on the current Habs defenseman himself.
“I spent some great years there and that was what really helped me make it to the National Hockey League,” explained Bergeron. “I have a lot of respect for the organization and there are a lot of people over there who helped me immeasurably along the way.”
Bergeron realizes that seeing his jersey retired won’t just be special during the ceremony itself; it also represents the legacy he’s left with the team that helped mold him into an NHLer.
“When I think about it, I can picture my son’s son going there 30 years from now and seeing his grandpa’s jersey hanging in the arena,” beamed the 29-year-old power play specialist.
Having his number retired by the Cataractes may be a huge honor for Bergeron, but given his performance in the City of Energy, it shouldn’t come as a big surprise. In 163 regular season games in Shawinigan, the defenseman notched 72 goals and added 116 helpers for 188 points. In his last season with the team, he rewrote the league’s record books by potting 42 goals – an all-time high among QMJHL blue-liners.
“Records are made to be broken, but I have to admit I’m pretty proud to see that record hold up over all these years,” confessed Bergeron.
Overlooked and underrated on NHL draft day, Bergeron owes his shot at the big leagues to his experience in Shawinigan – particularly his coach at the time, Denis Francoeur.
“He really believed in me and it was his confidence in my abilities that pushed me and helped me reach my goal,” emphasized Bergeron. “I was the guy who came out of nowhere and had no business being there. He gave me my chance and he’s the one who really made it possible for me to be where I am today.”
Bergeron’s big night is scheduled for February 26 at 7:30 p.m., when his jersey will be retired just prior to puck drop between the Victoriaville Tigers and the Cataractes at the Centre Bionest in Shawinigan. Vincent Cauchy is a writer for canadiens.com. Translated by Shauna Denis.