BOSTON — If Bruins forward Shawn Thornton seemed more jovial today during practice at the TD Garden, it was probably because a certain veteran center was also on the ice.
“I love having him out there. He’s my Irish brother,” said Thornton about Patrice Bergeron after practice. “Every time I see him he puts a smile on my face. I’m glad he’s doing pretty well so quickly.”
Bergeron joined his teammates for every drill except the battle drills that involve more intense contact. Combined with the time he was on the ice by himself, he skated for around an hour. He took a bump here or there during line rushes.
It was his next step in returning from a concussion he suffered May 6 against Philadelphia. He started skating Saturday for the first time since the injury.
Bergeron was unavailable for comment.
Head coach Claude Julien offered no update except to say that Bergeron being on the ice continues to be part of the league’s concussion protocol. When asked if he would rule out Bergeron from playing in tomorrow night’s Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Final against Tampa Bay, he would not.
“No comments. I don’t know. Is that better? I don’t know,” said Julien, who may not have wanted to leave open the door for a Game 2 return the way he did.
Just Bergeron’s presence on the ice for practice gives the Bruins a confidence boost in addition to something to look forward to in terms of his eventual return.
“His work ethic, his intensity, everyone feeds off it whether it’s games [or practices],” said Thornton. “He shows up every day. He’s the consummate professional.”