Patrice Bergeron at 27 has finally reached his full potential as a hockey player, and it is wonderful
The last time that Patrice Bergeron scored 30 goals in a season was 2005-2006. It was at this time where Boston Bruins fans believed Bergeron was going to be the next great scoring leader for the Boston Bruins.
Two seasons after his 31 goal outburst, the Randy Jones hit happened and Bergeron was diagnosed with a career threatening concussion. Bergeron has not scored 30 goals in a season since. For most players, that would be seen as a career disappointment, a long career ruined by a violent collision in the line of duty.
Patrice Bergeron made the Boston Bruins roster as an 18 year old kid mostly because he worked harder than anyone else in that Bruins training camp. In the 2003-2004 season, he had 39 points and was a big reason for the Bruins success in the regular season. It was clear from the beginning that the Boston Bruins had a special talent with Patrice Bergeron. The following season- the one following the canceled one – was the 31 goal season. It was easy to assume that Bergeron would become a scoring forward. Bruins’ fans forget he was thrust into a leadership role on a couple bad hockey teams, that Bergeron had to carry the scoring load because no one else would. After the concussion, Bergeron scored only eight goals and did not top 20 again until the Stanley Cup Season. Part of it was his recovery from missing nearly an entire season with a concussion, but the other part was contrary to statistical belief. Patrice Bergeron was actually developing as a hockey player.
I know it sounds odd to say that considering his decrease in point totals, but Bergeron was becoming a player where the numbers failed to tell the whole story. Hockey is a game where the eye-test is still a major contributor to the scouting and evaluation process. While games like baseball have developed advanced statistics that can be used to actively predict future success and basketball has statistics that can be a supplement to what are eyes tell us, hockey has very little in the advanced statistics realm. Hockey still relies on the eye-test to tell us most of what the public understands about the game.
Bergeron wasn’t scoring as much, but he was becoming a guaranteed face-off win and a certified first-line stopper. His hard-work made him a leader by example, a huge reason why linemates Tyler Seguin and Brad Marchand have become more than one dimensional players. In almost every aspect of Bergeron’s game, he has more than passed the eye-test despite his numbers. This is now more important than ever because Patrice Bergeron is putting together his best statistical season since his early thirty goal outputs. He is putting up his highest point per game numbers (.87) since the 06-07 season and is basically the reason that the Bruins have been offensively relevant in the Eastern Conference. The Krejci line and the third line have been rather irrelevant. It’s Bergeron and his merry band of line-mates that have kept the Boston Bruins scoring goals, including timely goals like his one last night that tied the game at two late in the third.
Patrice Bergeron is in his ninth season as an NHL pro, and thanks in large part due to the fact that he came in as an 18 year old rookie, Bergeron is still only 27 years old and smack dab in the prime of his career. When Bergeron came to the Bruins in 03-04, he quickly became a fan-favorite and pin-pointed as the next really good Boston Bruins prospect to come through the system. Through the ups and downs of the Bruins and his career, Bruins fans have watched him develop into a special player, one that makes his presence known in all zones of the hockey rink.
He will never be good enough, or get the statistics, to get his name called one day for Toronto unless the Bruins somehow rip off like three more Stanley Cup wins in the next decade and he gets remembered as one of the greatest on-ice leaders in hockey history. He will get 37 retired in the Garden rafters, that is a certainty. Patrice Bergeron night will happen, and much like the nights before him for Bruins greats, the fans will come out in force to thank him for his career. Much like the Bruins, Bergeron has reached some of his lowest moments and also seen it reach the top. It’s been a unique career as a Bruin, and somehow, it is still just beginning.