Bruins center Patrice Bergeron is keeping a diary for ESPNBoston.com this season. In this edition, he talks about how it’s leadership by committee on the Bruins, how they’re dealing with their many injuries and why making the Canadian Olympic team is important to him. (As told to Louise K. Cornetta)
Happy New Year! My holidays were good. It was fun because my wife’s parents came down for Christmas and then my family came down for New Year's. For Christmas, I got a wakesurf board. I may have to wait a while to use it, hopefully not until some time after June. I’m not really into making New Year’s resolutions. It’s about trying to enjoy being in the moment. Don’t look too far ahead and don’t look in the past. You have to enjoy each day that you’re living. I think that is something I have to work on sometimes. I’ll try to do that.
As for the team, I think we’ve had some adversity with all of the injuries. We’ve been able to win some games and keep playing well. It goes to the system that Claude [Julian] and the coaching staff have. Everyone is buying in. We’ve shown depth with the young players coming in who are doing a good job, also our consistency is still pretty good even though we’ve had some challenges.
We’ve had a lot of injuries, as I mentioned. Really tough to see Sides [Dennis Seidenberg] lost for the season with an ACL/MCL tear of his right knee. We were in Ottawa when I found out. It was one of those things that I just couldn’t believe. It looked bad and you could tell he was in a lot of pain. There’s hope that he’ll be back after not too long. But he’s a big part of our defense and we’re going to miss him. That being said, we have to find a way to replace him.
With so many injuries continually happening, we’ve just gone along with it. There’s not much we can control or do about it. For us, it’s about everyone stepping up and trying to bring a little bit more to the table for the team. We can’t replace guys with just one guy. It’s about everyone stepping in, doing their job and then doing a little more. If we all do that, the team concept will be there and it will help us win.
When Loui [Eriksson] got hurt with another concussion, Reilly Smith joined my line along with Marchy [Brad Marchand]. He’s been great. He’s been great all year actually. He’s a young guy. Usually you don’t want to put too much expectation on guys like that. It’s not fair. They don’t deserve so much pressure on them. He’s handled it pretty well. Every time he’s stepped on the ice, he’s creating something. He works hard. He wants to learn. He’s doing all the things right for him to become a professional and great hockey player for years to come. Off the ice, he’s pretty quiet actually. But he’s starting to talk a little more, which is great to see he’s feeling a little more comfortable now.
We haven’t lost more than two games in a row this season, which is something we take a lot of pride in. We want to carry that on for the rest of the season. It’s something that we talk about a lot, that we need to bounce back when we have a couple of tough games.
Zee [Zdeno Chara] has described the leadership on this team as leadership by committee. I agree with that. I think it’s not just one guy. We have a lot of guys who have been here for five, six, seven years now, which makes a big difference. We’re not scared of telling someone how we feel. We make guys accountable. But at the same time, we’re leaders who lead by example. When it’s time to step up, we do. It goes along with our work ethic and everyone follows suit. It’s not just me and Zee, but obviously [David] Krejci and also Looch [Milan Lucic]. Everyone is really buying in and it goes a long way. We all get along really well, which makes a big difference.
Our home record has been really good this season. I think our fans help us a lot. They definitely give us the energy we need sometimes when we’re down by a goal and are trying to get back in a game. A lot of the credit for our success at home goes to them.
So there are lots of things going well for the team, but there is certainly plenty to work on. I’d like us to keep improving, especially during games when we’re up by one goal to try and get that second and third goal to really step on the other team’s throats when their down. We don’t want to give the other teams a chance to come back in the game, that’s something we definitely need to work on.
Something that happened since my last diary was you may have seen me drop the gloves against Tyler Myers of Buffalo. I don’t know what made me want to take on someone who is 6-foot-8. It was spur of the moment. I didn’t really think about that. We were both going at it. He cross-checked me a couple of times and punched me once with his glove on and I did the same thing. We had enough of each other, I guess. Instead of keep cross-checking and swinging sticks at each other, it’s better sometimes to deal with it by fighting. You’re not going to see me do that too often. I guess this time was just one of those moments.
How did I fare in the fight? I think I did OK, not great obviously. He’s so tall that it was tough to even reach him. My teammates didn’t say much to me afterward but guys like it when you stand up for yourself or your teammates. Usually it gives them a little bit of life and hopefully it did that.
Since we’re talking about fighting, we know what happened with Thorty [Shawn Thornton] and his 15-game suspension. As teammates, we’ve tried to be supportive of him by keeping up his spirits. We want to keep him smiling as he’s always been one of the guys who keeps us smiling. He’s always been behind us. So we want to do the same for him. We’re trying to support him during this time as it’s a really long time not to play. We tell him to stay with it and this will end and he’ll be back with us soon enough. He’s itchy to get back out there and we also miss him.
Tuesday we find out who made the Canadian Olympic team for men’s hockey. The last time when I made it, it was a huge honor for me. I wasn’t necessarily on their radar early on in the season and I put myself on there. It’s something that I was very proud of. It was a great experience. It’s a huge honor to represent your country especially on the Olympic stage, which is the biggest stage. It was amazing.
If I don’t make it this time, I have to look at it like Canada has so many great players, so many great forwards also. It’s not an easy team to make. If you’re not on there, it doesn’t mean that you’re a bad hockey player, right? I’m going to have to respect the decision and keep working to try and get better. I’ll just have to work harder. Obviously I’ll be really excited if I make it. It is a goal of mine, I can’t lie about that. We’ll see what happens.
Winning a gold medal is a special feeling. It’s almost surreal during the ceremony. It’s something you realize a couple of days to a week later that it’s actually real and it happened. People are talking about it and your friends and family are calling you. It’s a memory that I’ll never forget. I’ll carry it with me for the rest of my life. My gold medal is hidden somewhere back home in a place very safe. You don’t want to lose something so valuable.
We’re heading out west for a week of games. Playing the Western Conference teams is different than playing the Eastern Conference ones. We noticed some differences in styles when we played some of those teams here. I think they play with lots of speed. They’re also very high tempo and they play a physical game. We need to be ready for that type of hockey when we get there. I know we will be going to some warmer weather, but I actually like the cold weather. I’m used to it. Once in a while, it is nice to go somewhere that has the sun shining though.