Patrice Bergeron left a lasting impact on not just the Boston Bruins but the NHL when he hung up his skates at the end of the 2022-23 season.

His were tough shoes to fill, but Boston this season maintained its pace as one of the best teams in the league. Brad Marchand and Charlie Coyle stepped up as captain and No. 1 center, respectively.

For the NHL, Bergeron’s retirement presented a new opportunity for defensive centers to stand out. ESPN’s Ryan S. Clark asked players what it’s like knowing the Selke Trophy competition is open with six-time winner Bergeron in the league. Clark’s column published Wednesday highlighted players who breathed a sigh of relief not having to compete against him every night but still had admiration for how he played the game.

Clark highlighted the “Bergeron Effect” on forwards taking pride in the defensive game. Coyle saw the former Bruins captain up close and felt his influence firsthand.

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“It’s all these little details that go unnoticed,” Coyle told Clark. “Sometimes, you think about a guy, ‘Why is he that good?’ Then you watch film and it’s like, ‘Oh my God. There’s like 1,000 little plays that he does so well.’ Those start to add up and that’s when you realize, ‘That’s why he is who he is.'”

David Krejci also retired the same summer Bergeron did, and the challenge of not playing without two franchise greats was one the Bruins embraced before the season.

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“No one player can take the place of Patrice Bergeron,” Coyle said. “Is it an added responsibility? Yeah, it is. We lost him, Krech and all these veteran guys with leadership. It’s not just on the ice, but it’s off the ice too. It’s in the locker room, but that’s something you want. You want more asked of you so you can rise to the occasion.”

The top stars in today’s league grew up watching Bergeron, and he set a standard for how forwards are supposed to play the game.

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“He’s how you’re supposed to play as a hockey player. That’s a hockey player,” Coyle said. “Both ends, you play the right way. You put up points and you’re solid defensively. That’s how it’s supposed to be done and he paved the way for a lot of these guys.”

There will be a new Selke winner this season, but there continues to be a campaign to rename the award after Bergeron to truly honor the former Bruins captain.

Featured image via Gregory Fisher/USA TODAY Sports