Patrice Bergeron is finally calling it a career after 19 remarkable seasons.

The Boston Bruins captain announced his retirement Tuesday, one day after celebrating his 38th birthday. In doing so, Bergeron’s two-decade run as a Black-and-Gold franchise cornerstone is complete.

“It is with a full heart and a lot of gratitude that today I am announcing my retirement as a professional hockey player,” Bergeron said in a statement released by the team.

“As hard as it is to write, I also write it knowing how blessed and lucky I feel to have had the career that I have had, and that I have the opportunity to leave the game I love on my terms. It wasn’t a decision that I came to lightly. But after listening to my body, and talking with my family, I know in my heart that this is the right time to step away from playing the game I love.”

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Tune into NESN on Tuesday at 11 a.m. ET for live coverage and reaction to Bergeron’s decision, and NESN also will have full coverage of Bergeron’s retirement press conference Wednesday beginning at 11 a.m.

Few players in the storied history of the Bruins can say they came anywhere close to accomplishing what Bergeron has since 2003. Only Ray Bourque and Johnny Bucyk played more games with a spoked-B on their chest than Bergeron’s 1,294, a number that could have been even higher had it not been for two lockouts and concussion issues earlier in his career.

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Bergeron’s 427 goals trail only Bucyk and Phil Esposito, and he’s one of just four all-time Bruins who eclipsed the 1,000-point mark for their career. His 1,040 points trail just Bourque and Bucyk.

It’s downright foolish to only focus on offensive production when it comes to Bergeron’s career. The 38-year-old walks away as the only six-time Selke Trophy winner, awarded every season to the “forward who best excels in the defensive aspects of the game.” He goes out on top in that regard, having just won the award for the 2022-23 season. Bergeron was a near-unanimous winner in his 12th year as a finalist (also a record), earning 187 of 195 first-place votes.

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Bergeron’s No. 37 almost certainly will take its rightful place in the TD Garden rafters very soon, a lasting tribute to his standing in franchise history. Of course, anyone who comes across the Stanley Cup will also be reminded of Bergeron’s crowning achievement for the Bruins. The center was arguably the best all-around player on the 2011 team that delivered Boston its first Cup in nearly 40 years. Bergeron scored two goals, including the game-winner in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final when the Bruins went on the road to take down the Vancouver Canucks in hostile territory.

A retired number, his name on the Cup and likely enshrinement into the Hockey Hall of Fame will offer tangible reminders of his greatness. Yet, it’s the intangible things he’ll be remembered for most by those who played with and against him over his incredible career.

Bergeron walks away as one of the most respected players in the sport, not just for how he played the game but also for how he handled himself off and on the ice.

Featured image via Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports Images