Each time Patrice Bergeron
looks back at the celebratory summer following the Boston Bruins
' first Stanley Cup since 1972, his hunger for another title grows.
"Once you taste it, you want more and want to do it again," Bergeron said during the recent NHL Player Media Tour. "I want to re-live the celebration after Game 7. Those memories help me in a matter of getting some confidence and knowing that we can accomplish great things as a team."
When Boston claimed the Cup last June, Bergeron became the 25th member of the "Triple Gold" club -- players who have won an Olympic gold medal, a World Championship and a Stanley Cup.
As he enters the prime of his career at age 26, Bergeron has made it a point to keep his experiences -- both good and bad -- in mind as he strives to help the Bruins repeat as champions, something they've never done since entering the NHL in 1924.
"I think I'm one of the leaders and I take my role seriously," Bergeron said. Tuning out the excitement "is something that our leadership core is going to have to talk about in groups, but I think most of the guys are pretty aware of how tough it will be. All the teams are going to try to beat us. We're the defending champs, so it's all about being ready and excited about it."
Bergeron knows he played an important role for both the Bruins in 2010-11 and on Team Canada's gold-medal winning Olympic team a year earlier. But he also said he never overlooks the principle of "winning together" and how it has shaped his career.
"It's very humbling to be a part of the Triple Gold Club," Bergeron said. "It's something very special to be in the same company as the guys that are there. It's a great honor -- but that being said, it happened because I've had great teammates and I've been on great teams. It's all about my teammates because we won together."
Bergeron's road to the top of the hockey world has not been smooth. His 2007-08 season lasted all of 10 games because of a career-threatening concussion after a hit from behind by Philadelphia defenseman Randy Jones
. He was sidelined by another concussion for 15 games in 2008-09 and missed a couple of games in the Stanley Cup Playoffs last spring because of another head injury.
But after a 22-goal, 57-point regular season -- his best offensive totals since 2006-07 -- Bergeron overcame the playoff injury with four goals and four assists in the final two rounds, including a two-goal performance in Game 7 of the Final at Vancouver. His first-period goal against Roberto Luongo
in Boston's 4-0 victory will be in the record books as the Cup winner.
Goaltender Tim Thomas
, who has known Bergeron since he arrived in training camp as an 18-year-old in 2003, said he was inspired by how Bergeron has overcome his injuries and re-established himself as one of the game's elite players.
"Once you taste it, you want more and want to do it again. I want to re-live the celebration after Game 7. Those memories help me in a matter of getting some confidence and knowing that we can accomplish great things as a team." -- Bruins' center Patrice Bergeron
"It took a long time before he got back to the basically-superstar level that he had started out his career in the NHL at," Thomas told NHL.com. "Having known him for a very long time now and having actually been in goal when he received both of those head injuries, it's great to see him not only recover, but excel."
As the Bruins enter the new season with almost the same cast that ended a 39-year Cup drought last spring, Bergeron knows the difficulty of the task at hand for his club. However, he believes the team's ability to persevere -- as demonstrated by their ability to overcome 2-0 deficits in winning two of their four playoff series -- will carry over to the new season.
"Nothing seems to bother us in key situations," Bergeron said. "I think it comes from the character of each and every individual. It felt like everyone wanted to do it -- not for themselves, but for the guy next to them.
With a summer of celebration behind them, Bergeron says it is imperative that he and his teammates keep their focus as they pursue another title.
"Our challenge now is to make sure we keep the same emotion and intensity that we showed last year," Bergeron said. "We're not under the radar anymore. All the other teams are going to try to beat us. It's important to stay put and stay focused as a team, and I think the character we showed last year in the playoffs is going to be huge for us. We need to carry that over to this year."