After the final buzzer sounded in Boston’s Game 7 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes in the first round of the playoffs, the captain led the Bruins through the traditional handshake line. Then he positioned himself near the exit, embracing every one of his teammates.
The campaign was over, and the team's unquestioned leader made sure to express his appreciation.
That show of class is a big reason Patrice Bergeron, whose contract is set to expire and whose future is uncertain, is one of the greatest Bruins players in history, and a beloved Boston icon.
"He means so much to this franchise," head coach Bruce Cassidy said immediately after the game. "We all want him back, but only he can answer that. I have no inkling. I have not addressed it with him. It’s not my place in the middle of the season. He’ll make that decision going forward.”
What Bergeron is to Boston and the Bruins is much more than the solid if unspectacular numbers he’s produced over his 19-year career. While he’s only worn the captain’s ‘C’ on his sweater for two full seasons since Zdeno Chara left, Bergeron was a longtime de facto captain with No. 33.