No matter what happens in the Stanley Cup Final, Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron already have spots reserved in the TD Garden rafters.
The two leaders of the Boston Bruins, Chara and Bergeron have positioned themselves as the cornerstone of this decade-plus run. Beating the St. Louis Blues for the Stanley Cup — which would be their second since 2011 — would cement their Black and Gold legacies as two of the absolute greatest players to ever pull on the Spoked B.
That’s no small accomplishment, either, given the Bruins’ tremendous history. This is an organization that has seen the likes of Eddie Shore, Bobby Orr, Ray Bourque, Phil Esposito, Johnny Bucyk and Cam Neely call Causeway Street home, and one more Cup would leave no argument that players like Chara and Marchand belong on that list, too.
For Chara, it’s a chance to further solidify himself as one of the best leaders in team history. In fact, if the Bruins are able to secure the Stanley Cup for the second time with the Slovakian blueliner as captain, he’ll become the first captain in B’s history to win two Stanley Cups. Some of that is admittedly circumstantial (Boston didn’t have a captain in 1970 or 1972), but it’s still a worthwhile accomplishment.
Chara also has the chance to put himself a little closer to Orr, which, honestly, isn’t that the gold standard for the Black and Gold? No one ever will or should suggest Chara rivals Orr’s once-in-an-eternity skill set, but four more wins will ensure Chara’s name is on that big silver chalice as many times as Orr’s. That’s gotta be worth something, right? Injuries hampered Orr’s ability to win more Cups, but Chara having to do his winning in the salary cap era among other quasi-dynasties like Chicago and Pittsburgh made his quests more difficult than Orr’s.
As for Bergeron, he has a chance to be the face of the franchise for the rest of his days, regardless of whether he’s captaining a duckboat through the streets of Boston in a couple of weeks. Winning a second Cup, however, certainly would add to his already incredible legacy. He truly has the chance to become the modern-day version of Milt Schmidt or Johnny Bucyk, both of whom won two Stanley Cups in their respective legendary careers.
We’d be remiss not to mention David Krejci, a player who led the dang league in playoff points en route to the Bruins’ 2011 Stanley Cup win. A second Cup will go a long way in perhaps lifting No. 46 in the Garden rafters. The same goes for Brad Marchand and, to a lesser extent, Tuukka Rask. But this leadership group that head coach Bruce Cassidy so frequently touts begins with Chara and Bergeron. They make everything go, and they are the two players to which every other player in that dressing should look when things aren’t going well.
And things haven’t gone well at times this season with injuries to a host of pivotal players. The playoffs have provided their share of adversity, too, whether it’s having to come from behind in the first two rounds or dealing with occasionally questionable officiating. Bergeron and (more so) Chara take the blame when the Bruins have failed to live up to expectations, and they should get the credit when things are going well.
Now, we sit on the doorstep of the duo’s third Stanley Cup Final appearance in eight years. That’s only happened a handful of times in this franchise’s history, and it hasn’t happened in 40 years. This is one of the greatest eras in the history of one of the NHL’s marquee franchises. Win or lose, Chara and Bergeron will have left the franchise in better shape than they found it once they finally decide to call it a career.
But if they can win just four more games against a St. Louis Blues team desperate for its first Cup in franchise history, Chara and Bergeron will shore up their place along that aforementioned line of Bruins immortals and might even move closer to the front. If they’re not both locks for the Hall of Fame yet, another title will punch that ticket, too.
That’s what at stake once this series finally begins Monday night.
Thumbnail photo via Eric Bolte/USA TODAY Sports Images