No. 3: Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Randy Jones’ hit from behind on Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron was probably the lowest point of the Black and Gold’s calendar year of ’07.
Looking to bounce back after a dismal 2006-07 season, the last thing the Bruins needed was to lose their best two-way player for an extended time. After the hit, it was learned that Bergeron suffered a Grade 3 concussion — the most severe type, and one that would keep him out of game action for the remainder of the regular season.
The year 2008 got better for Bergeron as it moved on — starting with his return to the ice for a light skate in late February, through his workouts that had him ready to play (with doctor’s clearance) had the Bruins moved to the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs, and then his return to game action in the regular season when the Bruins opened their current season in Colorado Oct. 9.
Little did he know that this year would close much the way the previous one did, and Bergeron’s trials and tribulations dealing with concussion problems is an obvious pick for the Top 10 Bruins Stories of ’08.
Bergeron’s return to regular duty was a bit of struggle through the first three months of the 2008-09 season. Skating as the club’s second line center, flanked at times by some combination of Marco Sturm, Chuck Kobasew and P.J. Axelsson, Bergeron managed just four goals and 14 assists in 31 games. But his plus-1 rating and his faceoff-win percentage of 57.0 proved that he was still contributing to the club’s success in other ways.
Then Dec. 20 vs. Carolina, this happened:
Through his agent Kent Hughes, Bergeron said he’d felt he was playing his best game of the year before his collision with Carolina’s Dennis Seidenberg. You could cut the silence in the Garden with a knife as Bergeron lied motionless on the ice, and the collective sigh of relief as he skated off could’ve knocked over a palm tree. Just 14 months earlier, Bergeron hadn’t been so lucky, as he left the ice on a stretcher in the aftermath of Jones’ hit.
Unfortunately for the Bruins and Bergeron, that luck only went so far. With the calendar year ’08 starting to be measured in hours rather than days, the veteran was still unable to shake his headaches and return to the ice. Although everyone involved acknowledges that Bergeron’s current concussion is not as serious as his previous one, there is no timetable for his return to action.
The Bruins have managed to get by without Bergeron in the past, so there’s no reason to expect they won’t be able to soldier on in No. 37’s absence in ’09. But the next year will be a lot better if Bergeron can return to full health and full strength.