With another lackluster effort in last night's loss to division rival Montreal, the effect of alternate captain Patrice Bergeron's absence is becoming increasingly evident. This comes as no surprise considering Bergeron is the team's best all-around player.
Bergeron suffered the fourth concussion of his career on April 2nd vs. Ottawa
He is a fantastic center, and consistently among the league's best in winning face-offs. He won the Selke Award last year for his defensive abilities, and he can also be a skilled goal-scorer. Furthermore, he is the glue that holds the team together, and without him, the Bruins look lost and are playing uninspired hockey.
Tyler Seguin has stepped in to play center, but even he admits the adjustment has been tough for him and because of it his appreciation for all Bergeron did has increased:
“First shift I was like, ‘Bergy, I appreciate you a lot more right now,’” Seguin said. “I guess the first period I felt it a little bit more, but, again, as the game progressed I felt like I could use my speed a little bit more, and it was just about finding those areas. It’s one thing from being a centerman and then going to the NHL, but it’s another thing from going center to wing in the NHL and then going back to center, so it’s going to take some adjustment.” (Quote from WEEI.com)
I think it is clear to everyone watching the team that the Bruin's are not playing Stanley Cup caliber hockey right now. And should their season come to a premature end as it did last season; losing Bergeron to a concussion will likely be highlighted as a critical turning point.
Even more worriesome is Bergeron's significant history of head injuries. This is the third brain injury he has suffered since his major, grade-3 concussion in the Fall of 2007, one that left him unconscious. It is truly tragic to see a world-class talent's career be in jeopardy because of head injuries.
The Bruin's are hopeful Bergeron will return at some point this season, as they should be. His value to the team is immeasurable. But his long-term well-being should be at the forefront of his timetable for return. And taking into account this is his fourth concussion in five years, I would be not bank of seeing him back on the ice this season. And that is a truly devestating fact that Bergeron, the team, and the fans may have to accept.