BOSTON — The Bruins knew full well what they were getting when they signed center Patrice Bergeron to an eight-year, $52 million contract extension last summer. They knew that they were getting one of the game’s best two-way forwards and one of the franchise’s cornerstones for a long time.
They might not have known, however, that Bergeron would be this good.
Bergeron took his game to another level in the final year of his current contract, as the Boston forward scored 30 goals for just the second time in his career and the first since the 2005-06 season. Shortly after that 2005-06 season ended, Peter Chiarelli was hired as the club’s general manager. Over that time, Chiarelli saw Bergeron develop into one of the game’s elite forwards, but this year, he saw Bergeron take his game to another level.
“It’s the best I’ve seen him, period,” Chiarelli said in a news conference Monday.
Bergeron’s season has meant even more recognition for the Selke Trophy favorite, which was helped by a very strong performance for Team Canada at the Winter Olympics. By the end of Canada’s gold medal-winning tournament, Bergeron was getting a lot of ice time on Canada’s top line, playing a key role in a dominant showing in Sochi.
“The Olympics helped us out on a couple of different fronts,” Chiarelli continued. “Bergy, he started maybe as the 13th forward over there in Sochi, and everyone saw what he can do. He was basically on the top line at the end of the day. It helped his pace, helped his tempo. You see him shoot the puck better. He’s had a terrific year. And of course the whole two-way component of his game has been so good. It’s always good. It’s not by accident that you hear his name in the Hart Trophy conversation. That doesn’t surprise me at all. This is the best I’ve seen him play.”
Chiarelli also lobbied for Bergeron when it comes to postseason awards. Bergeron is thought by many to be the favorite for the Selke Trophy as the league’s top defensive forward, and some even believe Bergeron should get consideration for the Hart Trophy as the league’s MVP.