Boston Bruins: Patrice Bergeron has big skates to fill… literally

(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
(Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images) /

Well, well, well, it looks like the Boston Bruins have a new sheriff in town.

In his 16 year career with the Boston Bruins, Patrice Bergeron knew only two captains, Joe Thorton (2003-05) and the Big Z himself, Zdeno Chara (2013-20).

While it’s not particularly common for a single player to spend 16 straight years with the same squad – case and point, Thorton was traded 7.5 years into his tenure with the Bruins – it’s even less common for said player to only play under two captains over said tenure. And yet, that’s the situation Bergeron came up under since going 45th overall in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, and it’s the situation that helped shape the Ancienne-Lorette, Quebec native.

Per Bergeron’s own admissions, playing alongside Chara for a decade and a half helped him tremendously, telling the Boston Herald’s Steve Conroy, “‘For the past 14 years, Zee has been a teammate, friend, mentor, and brother. We have experienced so much together, and it has been an absolute honor to compete alongside him all those years. I will miss him a teammate, but we are bound together forever.”

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So naturally, with Chara gone, the Bruins needed to find a new man to serve as the 20th captain in their franchise’s storied history. Hm… I wonder who that could be?

Well, in a swerve on-par with Hulk Hogan joining the nWo, Boston formally named Brad Marchand as their next captain, only to hand Bergeron the captain’s sweater a few moments later to thunderous applause from his assembled teammates. Would Marchand also be a good captain? Most definitely, he too is a life-long Bruin with 11 seasons under his belt, but ultimately, Bergeron was the only man with the clout, experience, and wherewithal to fill the massive skates Chara left behind on his way to Washington.

… like literally, Chara dons size 17 skates on his massive, Frankenstein-esque feet. That’s one size bigger than LeBron James wears.

One of the premiere two-way forwards in the game, Bergeron is without a doubt one of the most respected forwards in the NHL. He’s won the Selke Trophy four times, the Clancy Trophy in 2013, and has 869 points under his belt over 1,089 regular season games. If there was ever a player worthy of being named a captain – especially this late in his Hall of Fame-caliber career – it would be Bergeron, and if he can keep a Bruins roster in the midst of a generational line-change among the best teams in the NHL, it’ll rapidly cement his legacy even further.

Will Bergeron ever play 14 straight seasons as a captain? Goodness no, not unless he decides to play until he’s 50, but that’s not particularly relevant to his legacy per se. No, Bruins fans know just how crucial Bergeron has been to the team’s success over the last 16 years – he was the player Boston decided to build around over Joe Thorton in 2005 after all – and whether his jersey has an A, a C, or no letter at all really has no weight on that belief.

Heck, if Bergeron can keep his team together as the Boston Bruins attempt to make their fifth straight playoff appearance now as members of the 2021-only East Conference, it’ll go a long way to proving Marchand wasn’t the right man for the moment after all.

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Like it or not, the Boston Bruins are entering a transitional period in their franchiseinal history. With the few remaining members of their 2011 Stanley Cup-winning squad slowly falling by the wayside either via retirement or free agency – just ask Zdeno Chara – players like Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron will rapidly become the old men left on a young roster filled with players like Jake DeBrusk, and Charles Mcavoy. But until those youngsters are ready to become the new faces of the franchise, Patrice Bergeron is fully ready to wear the C with pride like his on-ice mentor and friend of 16 years before him.