Patrice Bergeron’s retirement leaves the Boston Bruins with a void.

Not only must Boston replace its top-line center on the ice, a task that’ll become even more difficult if David Krejci hangs up his skates, as well. The Bruins also need someone to step up as the unquestioned vocal leader in the locker room.

Most likely, it’ll be a collective effort. The B’s have several battle-tested veterans who are capable of leading through both actions and words. And asking any one person to fill Bergeron’s shoes, frankly, is unfair. We’re talking about an all-time great.

But Bergeron’s retirement, which he announced Tuesday after 19 NHL seasons, leaves the Black and Gold without an official captain. Bergeron donned the “C” for three seasons, receiving the honor in January 2021 after Zdeno Chara’s departure.

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So, who will become the 21st captain in Bruins history? Here are four options as Bergeron skates off into the sunset.

Brad Marchand
Marchand becomes the de facto leader in the room, by virtue of wearing the spoked-B for the last 14 seasons. He’s a perennial All-Star candidate, and at age 35, he’s really grown up before our eyes, demonstrating greater maturity now than earlier in his career. If Krejci joins Bergeron in retirement, Marchand and Milan Lucic, who recently re-signed with Boston after eight seasons away, will be the only two remaining members of the Bruins’ 2011 Stanley Cup-winning team.

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Charlie McAvoy
While Marchand certainly makes sense in the short term, the Bruins also could take a long-term approach now, rather than wait, and hand the “C” to McAvoy, who’s quickly establishing himself as one of the NHL’s premier defensemen. McAvoy, entering his seventh season at age 25, has everything the Bruins could want in a franchise cornerstone, from his on-ice ability to his budding off-ice leadership.

David Pastrnak
Pastrnak is the Bruins’ most recognizable player, a gifted goal scorer who’s blossomed into a superstar over the course of his nine NHL seasons. He’s firmly in his prime, at age 27, and the Bruins can feel good about him being around for the long haul. Pastrnak signed an eight-year contract extension back in March that runs through the 2030-31 season. He’s now the face of the franchise.

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Charlie Coyle
This would be a more unconventional choice, as Coyle is 31 years old with three years remaining on his contract. He hasn’t been around as long as the other guys listed — Coyle is entering his sixth season with Boston after coming over in a trade from the Minnesota Wild — but he’s a local kid, a native of Weymouth, Massachusetts, and figures to be a key cog in the middle as the B’s look to offset Bergeron’s exit. Coyle is well-known and well-respected in the community. A true leader, who doesn’t necessarily need the “C” to reflect such but nevertheless is a candidate.

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