-- Despite the fact that the contract was not finalized until the final day of Boston's preseason, Patrice Bergeron
said he had little worries about getting a new deal from the Bruins.
"I knew it was going to get done because, in the end, I was going to be the one saying yes," Bergeron said after Boston's practice Friday here at O2 Arena. "My priority was staying in Boston."
Priority became reality Thursday night in Prague as Bergeron and Boston GM Peter Chiarelli hammered out the three-year deal while the team was enjoying a State Dinner in one of Prague's many castles. According to RDS, the new contract reportedly will pay Bergeron $5 million per season.
Chiarelli said there was little doubt in his mind that this deal eventually would become reality. He feels the 25-year-old center is a franchise building block.
"He has a lot of elements to his game and personality that are terrific," Chiarelli said. "He's a consummate professional, a terrific player and a terrific young man. I'm ecstatic to get this done."
Bergeron had 19 goals and 52 points last season, but everyone in the organization says the center's value can not be measured in points alone.
"It's awesome for Patrice," said veteran forward Mark Recchi
. "He deserves it. He is a wonderful kid, a great person for the organization to keep. I think it is a great deal for both (sides). He could have tested the market and gotten a lot more money and a lot more years, and it just shows the commitment Bergy has to the organization and the guys in this room."
That loyalty, according to Bergeron, is a two-way street. Yes, he loves his teammates and wanted all along to stay in Boston, a place he readily calls "home now." But he also remembers how well the Bruins treated him when his career was hanging in the balance after he suffered a major concussion early in the 2007-08 season.
Bergeron missed the final 72 games of that season and there were legitimate concerns that Bergeron's career, still in its infancy, could be scuttled by the injury.
"He has a lot of elements to his game and personality that are terrific. He's a consummate professional, a terrific player and a terrific young man. I'm ecstatic to get this done."
-- Peter Chiarelli
Instead, the Bruins insisted Bergeron take all the time he needed to be medically right, even ignoring the player's pleas to take part in the 2008 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
"They took care of me and that is why I wanted to stay in Boston," Bergeron said. "Plus, I'm excited about the team. I think things are going in the right direction. I think we have a great team and a great core."
Chiarelli believes Bergeron can be the foundation of that core. He feels Bergeron is on the verge of a breakout season as he occupies the No. 1 center role with Marc Savard
on the injured list with a concussion.
"He's a great two-way player," Boston coach Claude Julien
says. "But I guess, to his defense, we haven't always given him the wingers to perform at his best.
"We want to give him that opportunity this year and I think we will see big things from Bergy."
He's likely to start this season with five-time 20-goal scorer Nathan Horton
on one side and Milan Lucic
on the other.
Even in saying that, though, Julien followed the company line in saying that Bergeron would be a value no matter his numbers.
"He's very professional about his job," Julien said. "We're talking about conditioning, coming to the rink with the right attitude. He never has a bad practice and he wants to be the best."
And now, with a new contract in his back pocket, Bergeron can, indeed, focus on the process of becoming the best.
"I'm glad this is behind me and I can concentrate on the season now," he said.