Boston Bruins: This is Patrice Bergeron’s team now, but for how long?

Patrice Bergeron #37 of the Boston Bruins. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/Freestyle Photo/Getty Images)
Patrice Bergeron #37 of the Boston Bruins. (Photo by Andre Ringuette/Freestyle Photo/Getty Images) /

Is Patrice Bergeron about to become the Captain of a sinking ship?

There was bombshell news to digest on Wednesday with Zdeno Chara announcing his departure from the Boston Bruins, and that should mean that Patrice Bergeron gets the “C” stitched on to his jersey in the immediate future.

It is still shocking the following day that Chara won’t be a member of the Bruins, with the future Hall of Famer defenseman quickly signing for the Washington Capitals after his exit was confirmed.

We graded that deal for the Caps here, by the way, and also looked at why it was a win-now move.

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The Capitals will play Boston eight times in the new East Division in 2020-21 too, with those games now boasting added spice.

With Chara now gone after 14 wonderful years, the Bruins will need a new Captain and it would be a huge shock if Patrice Bergeron wasn’t that guy.

However, if and when he is confirmed as the 19th Captain in Franchise history, Bergeron may have a tricky job ahead of him.

While there is perhaps none more qualified and better prepared for this role than the 35-year-old, who has been a long-time Alternate Captain in Boston, while his leadership skills and work ethic speak for themselves, Bergeron will have to deal with a changing landscape at TD Garden.

And we will map out why that is below…

For starters, there was one particular money quote that really jumped out from the personal statement Zdeno Chara released on his Instagram on Wednesday:

“The Boston Bruins have informed me that they plan to move forward with their many younger and talented players and I respect their decision.”

Focus on the first bit of that quote which makes clear that it was the franchise’s decision to part company with their Captain and franchise icon, and not the other way round.

Zdeno Chara (33), Patrice Bergeron (37)
Zdeno Chara #33 and Patrice Bergeron #37, Boston Bruins (Photo by Rocky W. Widner/NHL/Getty Images) /

Couple that with the fact that Chara then signed with the Washington Capitals for $795,000 on a one-year deal, then it is abundantly clear that it was the Bruins who decided to head in a different direction.

The signs don’t stop there, either. While Chara outlined that he was told he would only be handed a reduced role with the B’s in order to make room for their crop of up-and-coming defensemen, Boston did sign veteran blueliner Kevan Miller to a one-year, $1,250,000 contract earlier in the offseason.

Keep in mind, too, that Miller hasn’t played since the 2018-19 season due to injury, so it does seem somewhat baffling that General Manager Don Sweeney was willing to pay Miller and not a player in Chara who was the heart and soul of this franchise.

After all, the Boston Bruins were mired in hockey obscurity when Chara arrived in Free Agency in 2006-07, with the mere presence of the giant and human wrecking ball sparking a revival that led to a Stanley Cup in 2011 and countless other deep postseason runs.

To say yesterday’s bombshell has left a trail of destruction in Boston would be a mere understatement, with sports talk radio certainly not short of talking points to delve into today.

Many Bruins fans are outraged at how a true franchise legend was treated, and rightly so, and it does get you thinking about the future.

I mean, what exactly will Patrice Bergeron be walking into?

Patrice Bergeron (37)
Patrice Bergeron #37 of the Boston Bruins. (Photo by Rich Gagnon/Getty Images) /

Of course, he has been part of the organization since the 2003-04 season and he demands instant respect from everyone in that locker room, that organization and that city.

However, with the way Chara was just ruthlessly dumped in cold-blood, what does that mean for the rest of this core?

Bergeron himself is 35-years-old, although he should be untouchable, but could fellow center David Krejci be on his way out given that he is a UFA after this upcoming season?

So too is goaltender Tuukka Rask and it looks unlikely that he will remain in Boston once his contract expires, which would leave Bergeron and Brad Marchand as the only two members of the Big Bad Bruins core left that probably should have won more than just one championship.

Granted, there is still talent on this roster thanks to the likes of Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo, Jake DeBrusk and David Pastrnak, but there has been a feeling for a while that maybe the window was closing.

Maybe it is, maybe it isn’t, but the fluffed handling of Zdeno Chara’s departure has left a bad taste in the mouth of all Bruins fans and that displeasure will only linger once Training Camp opens next week.

Even if he isn’t officially confirmed as the new Captain just yet, it will be on the shoulders of Bergeron to deal with any awkward questions about the organization’s perceived treatment of his former teammate, and those questions likely won’t go away any time soon.

Then it will be down to business for Bergeron who will need to ensure his teammates are focussed and ready to make another push for the Stanley Cup in 2020-21.

Next. All eyes on Jack Hughes to step up. dark

There is no doubt that Patrice Bergeron will approach his new role with class given that he’s been a model leader for well over a decade now anyway, and the Boston Bruins will need that excellent leadership, professionalism and commitment from their No. 37 to help steady what appears to be a rocky ship heading into an almighty storm right now.