Bergeron shuts down rumours: 'I'm not making a comeback'
Patrice Bergeron understands how the rumour started.
The former Bruins captain spends every Friday on the ice with a group of friends and fellow ex-NHLers in the Boston area.
That weekly rink gathering sparked some online chatter last week Bergeron, who retired in the summer following a banner career, might be planning a dramatic return.
A hockey-world-rocking move, however, isn't in the cards.
"No, it is not happening," Bergeron said. "I'm not making a comeback, not trying to make a comeback."
The 38-year-old added anyone attending those on-ice sessions would see why the notion is pure fantasy.
"Come to our skates ... the rumours would go away pretty quickly," he added with a laugh. "It's a slow pace."
While the future Hall of Fame centre has stepped away from the game, Bergeron remains plenty busy.
Apart from school pickups for his kids and taking up some hobbies of his own, Bergeron has partnered with Kraft Hockeyville, a program that has awarded Canadian communities more than $4.8 million to maintain or upgrade sports and recreation infrastructure — including arenas — over the past 18 years.
"My hockey journey started in a small town just outside Quebec City," the native of L'Ancienne Lorette said in an interview. "Without it, I wouldn't be where I am."
The deadline for this year's Kraft Hockeyville nominations is Feb. 18.
"I've seen the impact, first-hand, hockey can have," Bergeron said. "A place where people would gather. There were a lot of free skates for people to learn. We want it to be more accessible and find ways to grow the game we all love."
Bergeron, who retired one day after turning 38 back in July, finished his NHL career with 427 goals and 613 assists for 1,040 points in 1,294 games over 19 seasons.
He added 128 points (50 goals, 78 assists) in 170 playoff contests, including a Stanley Cup victory in 2011 to go along with two other final appearances (2013, 2019) after Boston selected him with the 45th pick in the 2003 draft.
At peace with his decision to retire, Bergeron's hockey-tuned body clock started to get antsy in August when the six-foot-one, 196-pound forward would have normally been ramping up for the season.
"It was telling me, 'Hey you should be somewhere right now ... what's going on?'" he said. "But I feel like I am where I should be."
Bergeron, who also won Olympic gold in 2010 and 2014 before adding the 2016 World Cup of Hockey crown, said his love for the game hasn't wavered.
"Wish I could play forever," he said. "There's no second guessing or thinking, 'Did I do the right thing?'"
Some of the activities that have kept Bergeron occupied with his schedule now a lot less crowded include tennis lessons and rediscovering the guitar, which he played a bit growing up.
"So special to know an instrument," he said. "As a kid, you don't see it the same when it gets in the way of your hockey practices and whatnot.
"Definitely hard, but least I'm seeing an improvement."
And while Bergeron is staying active, he also isn't pushing himself quite like fellow former Boston captain Zdeno Chara, who has run multiple marathons since hanging up the skates.
"Not as exciting and entertaining as Z's retirement," the six-time Selke Trophy winner as the NHL's top defensive forward said with a laugh. "I don't know how he does it, but it's pretty impressive."
Bergeron is equally impressed by the Bruins in 2023-24.
Many observers expected a difficult road minus their No. 1 and No. 2 centres — David Krejci also retired — but last season's record-setting Presidents' Trophy winners, who suffered a stunning first-round playoff upset to the Florida Panthers in April, haven't missed a beat.
"Very proud," Bergeron said of a group that sits first in the Eastern Conference. "I'm not surprised, if I'm being completely honest. I knew they would be more than fine. So much talent and experience and leadership and character in that locker room."
He's also happy to see the successful opening three weeks of the Professional Women's Hockey League — the first time the women's game has had a unified North American circuit.
Bergeron was on hand for Boston's opener and announced Hilary Knight as captain.
"Fun to be a part of it, to be witnessing them making history," he said. "I could sense in that locker room the excitement. It was more than just an opening night.
"It was a special moment."
But just like the start of the Bruins' season, it didn't get the competitive juices flowing.
Time at home with his family, picking up hobbies and skating alongside buddies once a week is where Bergeron now belongs.
"I'm doing the things I've always wanted to do," he said. "I'm just enjoying life."
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 22, 2024.
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