Patrice Bergeron is keeping a diary for ESPNBoston.com this season. In this preseason edition, he reveals how he is not as perfect as some have described him, whether he could have played in a Game 7 of last season's Stanley Cup finals, what his big splurge was after signing an offseason contract extension, and expectations for himself and the team as we head toward a new season. (As told to Louise K. Cornetta)
I know Marchy [Brad Marchand] has kept the diary the past two seasons. He’s a character. I think he’s very funny and always in a good mood. He keeps us all on our toes about what we say or what we do. He’s the type of guy that chirps a lot, but in a good way. He’s the type of teammate you want on your team. He just lights up the mood every day. On the ice, he works extremely hard. He wants to get better every time he’s on the ice. He’s like a sponge with the coaches and even with his teammates in wanting to learn. He’s a winner too. He’s proven himself. He wants to win and we need that.
I heard he described me as perfect. I’m here to set the record straight that no, I am not. Obviously no one is and I’m not myself. To prove it, I’ll tell you a bad habit and that is I’m messy. I leave my stuff in the kitchen. I don’t clean up much and leave stuff around the house.
So before we look forward to this season, why don’t we take a quick look back at last year. By now you know I suffered a separated shoulder, broken rib, torn rib cartilage and a punctured lung. It all started in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup finals and got worse in Game 5. Then the separated shoulder happened in Game 6 and I also punctured my lung in that game. So all that happened in the span of three games.
I don’t think I would have played had there been a Game 7. I don’t think the doctors would have let me. Because my lung was collapsed 30 percent, I don’t think I would have been able to play. Games 5 and 6, I was in a lot of pain. It just kept increasing also with getting hit, trying to hit and getting involved physically. Game 5 was very painful and I couldn’t finish the game. Game 6, I got a nerve block to kind of manage the pain, but still it was there and got worse as the game went on with my shoulder. Those last two games were pretty painful.
Getting over losing in a Stanley Cup final like we did in Game 6 took me a few weeks. At first it was tough to swallow because you work all this way and work so hard to give yourself a chance. Then you get there and you don’t get it. It’s hard to go through that and live with that feeling. At the same time, I was at the hospital for three or four days. I had to worry about my health first. I guess it kicked in when I got back from the hospital and I realized everything that happened. That’s when I started feeling very disappointed and it was tough for a couple of weeks.
When I look back on last year’s team, I am most proud of our fight and character throughout the playoffs. Game 7 against Toronto is something I will always be very proud of the way we competed and found a way to win. I think it propelled us to have the run we had. I was proud to be a part of that team and to be able to give this city something positive after everything that had happened with the tragedy at the marathon.
I had a good offseason with three big events that happened. First, I got married. The ceremony was great. It was a very small ceremony back home. It was great to have it with the people we wanted with our family and close friends. It was a fun day. My wife was worried about my health when everything happened to me, but things went along pretty good. I was able to enjoy the day without having to go through too much pain.
Second big event was signing an eight-year deal with the Bruins. It’s great to be fortunate to have security. It’s definitely something you look for in life. Having a chance to get that security is something that I appreciate a lot and am very happy about. I’m very thankful to be able to stay in Boston to finish my career. I am lucky and blessed that the Bruins felt the same way. I did have one big splurge item that I purchased once I got the new deal. I got a brand new car. I got an Audi R8 that’s white with some black.
The third event was being invited to Team Canada player orientation camp. I had company with [Milan Lucic] and Marchy with me this year. It was great to have them with me but, like them, it was a first for me too as I didn’t go to the orientation camp last time I went to the Olympics. It was good to see them there. It’s always better when you know people when you head into camps like that. It was a fun five days.
There’s something else that happened over the summer. I got my first tattoo. I spent seven hours in the chair getting it. It was long but wasn’t too bad. The tattoo is a protector, like a guardian that looks after me. It says “master of your destiny” in French. You can translate it as “control your own destiny” or “master of your fate.” It means to me that you have to believe in yourself. You’re the only one who can dictate your future. If you believe in something and if you have dreams or something that you’re aiming for, you go out there and work hard to achieve it and to get it. That’s how it speaks to me. I’ve been thinking about getting it for a while. I wanted to have something that looks out after me and is on me and a part of me.
Now we’re here at camp and I have a new linemate in Loui Eriksson. I was surprised like everyone else when Tyler [Seguin] was traded. He was obviously a good player, someone that we’d created some chemistry on the ice with. But at the same time, I guess it’s just the nature of the business. You can’t really control these things. We have to move on since it did happen. You wish him all the best, but at the same time, I look forward to playing with Loui. I think he’s a great player and a very smart player. It’s going to be exciting.
We talk about building chemistry on my line with Loui and Marchy. So far it’s just about talking and communicating. It’s about getting to know one another on the ice and where he wants the puck and whatnot. It’s just about reading off each other. You can’t really change your game either. After a while, you just know where he’s going to be.
Another new face here is Jarome Iginla. I’m pretty excited that he’s with us now. It speaks volumes that he wanted to come here. He’s the type of person that’s a guy who wants to win. He realized we’re a good team. You can’t really be mad at him for the choices he made last season. [Editor’s note: Iginla chose to be traded to the Penguins over the Bruins at last season's trade deadline.] He’s a proven leader and winner by the way that he’s played his whole career. He wants to compete every night and that’s the type of team we are.
My expectations for this team this season are the same. It’s about winning. We’re a great team. You can’t look too far ahead. We have to refocus on this year. Last year is in the past. We have to learn from what happened and obviously it gives you some extra motivation to try and get there again. We want to at least have the opportunity to get there and go from there. I think it’s about taking it a game at a time. It’s a long season, but I think our expectations should be high.
As for me, the ribs are still tender. It’s getting a little better. I haven’t seen any setbacks in the last four days. It’s a good sign. My goal for myself is to try to get better every year. To me, that’s my motto to go beyond my limits and try to be the best I can as long as I help my teammates and my team to win. It’s not always about goals and assists for me. It’s about details on the ice. I’m trying to do that.
I can’t believe I am the senior member of this team. It goes by so fast. Now I can try and help the young guys coming in the way that I was helped in my first and second training camps. The last 10 years have been a blast. I learned a lot. Hopefully there are many more years ahead of me.