But Bergeron, 38, announced on Tuesday that he won’t be returning for a 20th season and will retire after being in the NHL since the 2003-04 season.
“It wasn’t a decision that I came to lightly,” he said in a statement. “But after listening to my body, and talking with my family, I know in my heart that this is the right time to step away from playing the game I love.”
Bergeron faced the same decision last offseason and returned, helping lead the Bruins to a record-setting 65 wins and 135 points. But the Bruins collapsed after taking a 3-1 series lead against the Florida Panthers and lost in the first round as Bergeron dealt with a late-season back injury.
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His decision not to return this time – following the birth of his family’s fourth child – starts the countdown to a Hall of Fame election and leaves the Bruins with a big hole in the lineup.
“As I step away today, I have no regrets,” he said. “I have only gratitude that I lived my dream, and excitement for what is next for my family and I. I left everything out there and I’m humbled and honored it was representing this incredible city and for the Boston Bruins fans.”
Why is Patrice Bergeron a future Hall of Famer?
He has been a finalist for the Selke Trophy as best defensive forward the last 12 seasons and has won the award a record six times. He received 187 of 196 first-place votes last season. Five-time Selke winner Bob Gainey is in the Hall, as is three-time winner Guy Carbonneau. Three-time winner Jere Lehtinen is not and fellow three-time winner Pavel Datsyuk will likely get in after becoming eligible next year.
But Bergeron is more than faceoff and defensive excellence. He centered a dominant line with Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak. Bergeron has 1,040 regular-season points, trailing only Hall of Famers Ray Bourque and Johnny Bucyk on the Bruins’ all-time list.
His 128 playoff points are tied for second in team history, and he had 10 game-winning goals. He won the Stanley Cup in 2011 and reached the Final in 2013 and 2019. He also won Olympic gold medals with Canada in 2010 and 2014.
How can the Bruins replace Patrice Bergeron?
They can’t – and their situation will be worse if David Krejci also doesn’t return. The Bruins’ depth down the middle was a major strength last season.
Bergeron took nearly twice as many faceoffs as anyone else and won more than 60% of them. Not to mention that he is a respected captain.
Pavel Zacha can play a bigger role and Boston added center Morgan Geekie in free agency. They also signed James van Riemsdyk, Milan Lucic and Kevin Shattenkirk but traded Taylor Hall and lost trade deadline acquisitions Dmitry Orlov, Tyler Bertuzzi and Garnet Hathaway.
Bergeron’s absence will compound those departures.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Boston Bruins’ Patrice Bergeron announces retirement