After being honored, Patrice Bergeron delivered
Glen Murray remembered a rookie who was ready to shine.
Mark Recchi recalled a young star who “didn’t take a shift off.”
Shawn Thornton brought the jokes for his old pal.
“Patrick Cleary, I [bleppin’] love ya,” said Thornton, referencing Bergeron’s Irish heritage. “I’d love to say you’ve got another 1,000 in you, but you’re creeping up in age.”
Those were three of Patrice Bergeron’s friends who lauded the most praiseworthy Bruin before Saturday’s game against the Kings, during the official ceremony to recognize Bergeron for reaching the 1,000-game mark. Several more offered similar videotaped tributes, replayed for an adoring TD Garden crowd, that spoke volumes about No. 37.
Ex-Bruins coach Claude Julien weighed in (“The best two-way player I’ve ever coached”), as did former teammates Murray, Recchi, Thornton, Johnny Boychuk, Chris Kelly (“No better 200-foot player in the game”), Marco Sturm, and Adam McQuaid. Current Bruins Zdeno Chara, Brad Marchand, David Krejci, and David Backes said their pieces. Bergeron’s Team Canada contemporaries, Jonathan Toews, Shea Weber, and Sidney Crosby, wished him well. Local heroes Paul Pierce, Julian Edelman, Jason Varitek, and David Ortiz offered tributes, as did Bergeron’s rookie-year housemate, Martin Lapointe.
Kudos came from the highest levels of the franchise, in the person of coach Bruce Cassidy, general manager Don Sweeney, president Cam Neely, CEO Charlie Jacobs, and owner Jeremy Jacobs.
“I think the world appreciates the quality of the game you play,” the elder Jacobs said. “Thank you for all you have done.”
Bergeron watched the tributes from in front of the Bruins bench, with his parents (Gerard Cleary and Sylvie Bergeron), wife (Stephanie) and children (Zack, Victoria, and Noah) nearby, extended family in the stands, and the full Los Angeles lineup present and applauding from their bench.
“Had to look away a few times,” Bergeron said after Boston’s 5-4 overtime win, on the strength of his winning goal. “It was pretty special to hear from all of those guys . . . To have my family on the ice and my kids, I was definitely trying to enjoy it. I doubt there’s going to be 1,000 more, so I doubt there will be another ceremony. So I was trying to soak things in.”
The Bruins, of course, will surely host more Bergy ceremonies down the road. Retiring his number is all but a certainty. His résumé — 784 points in 1,002 games and counting; a 2011 Stanley Cup, on a short list of the finest defensive forwards ever — makes a Hall of Fame celebration a possibility.
During the ceremony, which was MC’d by NESN analyst Andy Brickley, Bruins great Johnny Bucyk presented Bergeron with a commemorative Tiffany crystal on behalf of the franchise. His teammates, represented by veterans Chara, Marchand, Krejci, Backes, and Tuukka Rask, gave Bergeron’s family an all-inclusive vacation package to a destination of their choice; a dog-tag necklace; and a framed mosaic of Bergeron hoisting the 2011 Stanley Cup, composed of 1,000 smaller published images.
Neely closed out the ceremony by offering a painting of three No. 37s in uniform, from his youth, mid-career, and now. The Bruins president also gave Bergeron an engraved golden stick, which he did not use to score the OT winner.
“It’s been an amazing ride,” he told the crowd moments after the game. “You guys have made it more fun.”
Asked if Bergeron could be summed up as “a pro,” Marchand, his longtime linemate, piled on the praise.
“Yeah,” cracked Marchand, “or God. One of the two.”
Grzelcyk likely out
Cassidy wouldn’t rule out defenseman Matt Grzelcyk for Sunday against Colorado, but said it “wouldn’t be ideal” to throw him back in the fire after resting him since Thursday. Grzelcyk sat out Saturday after playing through a pulled (lower body) muscle Wednesday against the Rangers. Grzelcyk, who typically skates with Kevan Miller, was replaced by John Moore. Miller began the game with Torey Krug, Moore with Brandon Carlo . . . Moore, playing his first game since Jan. 31 and third in the last four weeks, blocked a game-high five shots in 15:58. He played in all but three of the Bruins’ first 44 games (the absence owing to a lower-body injury), but was pushed out of the lineup with Charlie McAvoy’s Jan. 12 return from injury . . . When he’s in, Moore is one of the Bruins’ most-used penalty killers (2:23 per game), but Grzelcyk has been consistent enough to earn second-string PK minutes despite his size (5 feet 9 inches, 174 pounds) . . . Bergeron landed a game-high seven shots on eight attempts . . . Kings third-line right wing Ilya Kovalchuk, in 17:42: one shot, five attempts, one fateful penalty in OT.