BOSTON — We operate under the assumption that nobody is perfect, which is true. On the ice, though, Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron is as close as you get to the perfect hockey player.
That’s not news for Bruins players, coaches, management or fans, who have watched him since he broke in with the B’s way back in 2003. The rest of the hockey world doesn’t see Bergeron the way those who watch the Bruins do, though. Maybe it’s because he’s not flashy on or off the ice, but Bergeron goes largely unnoticed despite being one of the NHL’s most effective players.
But for those who aren’t lucky enough to see Bergeron play every night, especially the ones who don’t get to see and believe how good he really is, the 2014 Winter Olympics should have been an eye-opener. Bergeron helped Canada to gold and was one of the most effective forwards on one of the greatest Olympic hockey teams ever assembled.
Bruins head coach Claude Julien served on the Canadian coaching staff in Sochi, and he was obviously impressed with what he saw out of his best forward.
“He was one of our best players, and I’m not afraid to say that,” Julien said Tuesday. “His line in that first game with (Jamie) Benn and (John) Tavares was probably our best line. He was playing so well that he ended up moving up on the (Sidney) Crosby line and basically brought some good stability to that line and they were much better from then on. He made a lot of highlight clips in our review just by how hard he worked both sides of the coin. He’s such a complete player. It’s nice to see he was seen that same way on a bigger stage. Now there’s no doubt in my mind that everybody knows how good he is.”
Bergeron really started to get noticed in Sochi when skating on Canada’s top line with Crosby and Chris Kunitz. The Canadians struggled to find consistency with Crosby’s linemates. That was until they slotted Bergeron on that line, and it’s no coincidence that line took off from there.
“You can even ask Sid (Crosby),” Julien began, “Sid loves playing with him. They played together in world and junior championships. They’ve been linemates in that. He just loves playing with him. He’s got a great appreciation for Bergy.”
Bergeron’s ability to adapt is nothing new. He’s seen shuffling linemates over his time in Boston and has had his line change a couple of times this season. Yet his line remains arguably Boston’s top line, especially with the emergence of Reilly Smith whose game has just taken off with Bergeron to his left.
“If the game’s in a little bit of a tight situation, you want him on the ice because he’s probably one of the most responsible players in the league,” Smith said. “If the puck’s on his stick. you know he’s going to make the right play with it.”
Whether Bergeron gets even more accolades and fanfare moving forward is yet to be seen. But if there were any doubters among those who don’t get to see him on a nightly basis, those should have been squashed after his latest work alongside the best players on the planet.
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