BOSTON — Patrice Bergeron has been a Bruin for a very long time.
How long? Well, let’s put in this way: Of the 23 ex-Bruins players scheduled to participate in Thursday’s Winter Classic alumni game at Gillette Stadium, seven are former teammates of Bergeron’s.
“There’s a few of them I played with,” the veteran center said Tuesday morning, “so it definitely makes me feel a little older.”
Mark Recchi, Marco Sturm, Sergei Samsonov, Brian Leetch, Hal Gill, Andrew Raycroft and P.J. Axelsson all played with Bergeron at one point or another before calling it a career, and all are set to lace ’em back up on New Year’s Eve in Foxboro, Mass.
“There’s lots of guys (I’m excited to see),” Bergeron said. “I think (Recchi) is definitely one of them. Andrew Raycroft, it’s been a while since I’ve seen him. Sergei Samsonov, I guess, is there. So, there’s a lot of guys I’m looking forward to seeing and watching.”
Recent retirees make up only a fraction of the Bruins’ and Montreal Canadiens’ alumni rosters, though. Boston’s contingent includes a bevy of greats from decades past, including some, like Bruins president Cam Neely and general manager Don Sweeney, who have risen to management positions in the organization.
“It’ll be interesting to see,” winger Brad Marchand said. “Seeing Cam around the room, he’s the president, and he has such a presence about him. Seeing him back on the ice will be cool. And to see (Recchi) skating again, those little choppy strides — always fun. It’ll be a fun game to watch.”
A selection of alumni, including Sweeney, Raycroft, Gill, Terry O’Reilly and Ray Bourque, got in a bit of practice Tuesday at TD Garden.
Puck drop for the Winter Classic alumni game is set for 3:30 p.m. ET.
Thumbnail photo via Perry Nelson/USA TODAY Sports Images