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The Bruins open captains’ practice with a void to fill, and an obvious candidate to fill it

Could Patrice Bergeron (right) pass the captaincy torch to Brad Marchand?Jim Davis/Globe Staff

The Bruins kicked off their annual series of pre-camp captains’ practices Tuesday morning, albeit without an official captain.

The club will be looking for a new sweater to sew the “C” on this fall after Patrice Bergeron retired after a prolific 19-season run, including the last three campaigns as captain.

Of the handful of likely candidates to succeed Bergeron, his longtime wingman, Brad Marchand, was the only one who hit the ice at Warrior Arena for the 90-minute skills and scrimmage session.

Marchand, who has served in the alternate captain rotation for the last five seasons, said he hasn’t spent a ton of time thinking about following in the footsteps of Bergeron and Zdeno Chara, Boston’s captain for 14 seasons.


“Obviously, it’s a big honor to be in the leadership group in this organization and when you look at the guys that have been there before, we’ve always done it collectively as a group,” Marchand said after the skate. “So, regardless of who wears it, it’s a collective thing. And even guys without letters will step up a lot of times throughout the year. So again, when you lose Bergy and [longtime alternate captain David Krejci] and the leadership that comes with [them] it’s going to come from a group, not from one certain guy or a couple guys.

“So that’s what we’re going to rely on this year, particularly at a time like this.”

Given Marchand’s age (35), experience (he’s heading into his 15th season), and stature in the locker room, he would seem a natural fit to carry the “C” on his chest.

Additionally, the lessons learned from Bergeron’s leadership style could help with locker room continuity while also helping to integrate the many new faces who will don the Black and Gold this season.

“One of the big things [Bergeron] talked about was gratitude and accountability, just treating every day like it’s a gift and being thankful to be here and have the opportunity to play in this organization, this team,” said Marchand. “You hear it so often when guys come from different groups or they leave and go somewhere else, how much they miss being here and how lucky they are to be here now. These careers fly by quickly. You’re going to miss it every day when it’s gone. You never know when it’s going to be your last day in the league. It’s just being grateful, and with that comes doing everything in your power to make the most of your opportunity and to not waste a day.”


Marchand and Bergeron formed one of the NHL’s best 1-2 punches over the last dozen years, so this will be a season of change on the ice for the left winger. He will need to build chemistry with his new pivot, which could be Charlie Coyle, who subbed for Bergeron in the playoffs, or Pavel Zacha, who could make the leap from the second line, where he played on Krejci’s wing last season.

No matter who gets the assignment centering Marchand and Jake DeBrusk, Marchand knows they must jell organically.

“The biggest thing that we have to do is make sure we don’t try to play the same way Bergy and I played,” he said. “If I’m playing with Coyle or playing with Zacha … we have to build our own chemistry from Day 1. I’ve got to find what strengths either one of those guys have and play within that and they have to do the same with me. It took years to build what Bergy and I had and whoever was with us at that point in time. It’s just something we have to work on every day in practice, watch video. We’re going to have to build throughout the season, next season and the year after that.


“It will be a work in progress. The big thing is those two guys have a great opportunity ahead of them to play big minutes and take a big step.”

. . .

A familiar face will be back in town for training camp after the club signed winger Danton Heinen to a professional tryout agreement. Heinen was a fourth-round pick of the Bruins in 2014 and collected 34 goals and 103 points in 220 games with the franchise, before Boston sent him to the Ducks at the 2020 trade deadline for Nick Ritchie. Heinen previously played two seasons for Jim Montgomery at the University of Denver. He spent the last two seasons with the Penguins . . . It was a hodgepodge of colors in the locker room as some of the new faces haven’t been completely outfitted in their Bruins gear. Spotted: Orange and black Flyers gloves (James van Riemsdyk); a deep sea blue and red skate guards (Morgan Geekie); a white and red helmet of the Red Wings (Alex Chiasson); and a Harvard equipment bag (John Farinacci).


Jim McBride can be reached at Follow him @globejimmcbride.