WILMINGTON, Mass. -- Bruins center Patrice Bergeron is likely to return to the lineup Wednesday night against the Sabres at TD Garden, with coach Claude Julien saying it was “highly probable” Bergeron would play.
When he does return, Bergeron obviously will give a lift to the Bruins both offensively and defensively as the 2012 Selke Trophy winner’s two-way play has been sorely missed since he suffered a concussion on April 2 and missed the last six games.
But while Bergeron’s skill was absent from the Bruins lineup as he battled to recover from his fourth concussion, his leadership wasn’t. Last Thursday morning, prior to the Bruins’ 2-1 loss to the Islanders, Bergeron addressed his teammates in a players-only meeting and let them know that he felt they could be better.
“At some point in the year, everyone in my position has to do that and make sure that the team realizes how good we can be as a team,” the Bruins alternate captain said. “I just told them it’s about getting back to basics and playing how we can play and how I know we can play.”
Bergeron has had the privilege of learning from some true leaders over the course of his career, dating back to his rookie season of 2003-04 when Marty Lapointe took him under his wing as a mentor and allowed the 18-year-old from Quebec City to live with his family as he adapted to an English-speaking community. Bergeron also played with Glen Murray and then Mark Recchi as he became an alternate captain for the Bruins. All three helped mold Bergeron as a leader and now he feels he knows when he needs to address his team.
“My first year I learned from one of the best,” Bergeron said of Lapointe. “Marty for me was an amazing leader. Then [Recchi] obviously and [Murray] too, but [Recchi] was really important because I was older and an assistant captain by then. So it was a time that I needed to really learn a lot about leadership and how to apply it. [Recchi] really took the time to do that and teach me. I learned that it has to come naturally and you have to speak from your heart.”
While the Bruins have lost two games since Bergeron spoke to his teammates, he has seen signs that they’re reverting to the brand of hockey they should be playing.
“I really feel even in the last two games and specifically Carolina, we had some good things happening that had slipped out of our game that were coming back,” Bergeron said. “[Tuesday's] practice was a perfect example because I thought we were going hard the whole time and it all starts in practice. So that’s a good sign and hopefully we can go from there.”