Patrice Bergeron became one step closer to fulfilling a career goal of his on Friday when he signed an eight-year contract extension with the Bruins. The eight-year deal puts Bergeron in position to retire as a member of the Bruins, which is something he wants to do.
The Boston forward, known as one of the best forwards in the game as well as a consummate professional, was rewarded for his accomplishments in the form of eight years and $52 million. While the money is nice (although Bergeron could have made more had he waited to go on the market next summer), it’s the security that comes with the new deal that Bergeron so desperately coveted. He’s not leaving Boston any time soon, which is just the way he wants it.
“I started my career with the Bruins and they’re a team that believed in me as an 18-year-old coming in,” Bergeron said Friday afternoon in a conference call. “I’m very happy to say now that I’ll likely retire as a Bruin. That’s the goal and what I want.
“I have a lot of pride every time I step on the ice as a member of the Bruins.”
That pride is something that has been noticed by Bergeron’s teammates, the fans and the organization. Bergeron has become one of the most popular players among fans and media alike, as he’s known to handle himself with the utmost class and has become a valued member of the Boston sports community. So when Bergeron talks about how much he loves his adopted home — where’s he lived for almost a decade — it’s clear to see it’s not just lip service.
“When you realize and see the team wants you and believes in you and gives you a chance to show what you can do no matter where you got picked, I think they did that right away,” Bergeron, a second-round pick in 2003, said. “We love the organization and we also love the city. It also feels like home now and we don’t wanna go anywhere else. It was an easy decision for me and my family.”
It was also a pretty easy decision for the team, despite the risks associated with a lengthy contract for a player who has had some injury issues in the past. Yet one could argue that Bergeron is the most important member of the Bruins, and thus, the B’s took care of him as such. Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli, who has now given out two eight-year contracts this week alone, said there wasn’t a ton of apprehension when it came to giving Bergeron this contract.
“I call [players like Bergeron] pillars of the team,” Chiarelli explained. “You have the ability to extend multi-year deals going into the last year and we took advantage of that. He’s a leader, he stands what we stand for, he’s proud to wear a Bruins logo, he stands for all these things.”
That outweighs any potential risks, apparently.
“We’re comfortable with the risks, it wasn’t something we took lightly, but we felt very strongly about Patrice as a player and a person and would accept some of these risks,” Chiarelli added. “The longer-term contracts, you could win or you lose from a perspective of performance, but we try to give them to guys who we think have real high character and will continue to perform and increase that performance and Patrice falls into that category. In fact, right in the middle of it.”
When Bergeron’s new contract ends after the 2022 season, Bergeron will be a month or two shy of his 37th birthday, which means this could be he his final contract. If he continues at this pace, there’s no denying Bergeron’s No. 37 will one day hang from the TD Garden rafters. However, that’s not something Bergeron’s thinking about, at least not yet.
“I can’t really say [what that would mean] right now,” Bergeron said. “It’s too early to talk about that. There’s too much history behind the Bruins and to me, I feel very fortunate that the Bruins felt the same way I feel about the organization and the team.
“If [the number being retired] does happen, it’s going to be a huge honor, but there’s a long way to go still.”
For that, the Bruins and their fans are very grateful.