BOSTON – Torn rib cartilage in Game 4.
A broken rib in Game 5.
A separated shoulder in Game 6.
Patrice Bergeron played through it all in the Stanley Cup final. And that doesn’t include the collapsed lung that the Boston Bruins star learned about after skating up and down the TD Garden ice in the last game, trying in vain to keep the season going.
“I don’t know if there’s pride,” Bergeron said Tuesday. “Some people would say it’s stupid.”
He was in the hospital last Wednesday when his teammates met reporters for the final time, two days after the season ended with a 3-2 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks in the sixth game. So on Tuesday, he stood at a podium in the Bruins locker room, hands in the pockets of his pink shorts, and matter-of-factly recited his medical record.
At least his legs were spared.
“It’s all good,” Bergeron said. “I’m 100 per cent (in the) lower body.”
The stitches sewn at the end of his right eyebrow while he sat on the bench in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the New York Rangers were gone. The red scar on his nose was still visible from the fight he had with Evgeni Malkin in Game 1 of Boston’s four-game sweep of the Pittsburgh Penguins in the conference finals.
His spleen checked out OK after an ambulance took him from the United Center during Game 5 of the last round in Chicago. He hadn’t been diagnosed with a concussion since the fourth of his career sidelined him for six games in April.
But moving on, Patrice, how about next season?
Bergeron said he doesn’t need surgery and should be ready for the start of training camp.
“I just need,” he said, “I guess, a couple weeks.”
Any of those injuries would have sidelined players in other sports. But Bergeron, one of the NHL’s best all-around players, insists he did nothing special to help the Bruins play for their second Stanley Cup title in three years.
“You put everything on the line to help your team. That’s basically what I did. I’m 100 per cent confident everyone else would have done the same thing,” the Bruins alternate captain said. “There’s a lot of really tough guys on our team and I don’t feel like I should take all the praise.”
Bergeron has spent all of his nine NHL seasons with the Bruins. Without him, they likely would have been eliminated in the first round when they trailed the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-1 with less than 11 minutes left in regulation of an intense Game 7. He tied it with 51 seconds remaining in the third period, then won it with his goal at 6:05 of overtime.
He scored another overtime winner in Game 3 against Pittsburgh. Then he had two goals—and the first since his rash of injuries—in Game 4 against Chicago.
But that was the game in which the centre tore rib cartilage. Early in Game 5, he was hit in the ribs and suffered a crack on the left side. Doctors told him the only way he could play in Game 6 was to get a nerve block that would freeze the area. So he had one—and needed other pain-killing shots during the game.
Bergeron also separated his right shoulder in the first period but played the rest of the way.
“I can’t remember who it was from their team, but it was in the corner, trying to just battle and I was trying to protect my ribs,” he said. “I fell kind of awkwardly in the boards and opened up my shoulder a bit and separated it.”
As the game went on, he could feel his energy fading. When it ended, he endured the tradition of shaking hands with his opponents and went to the locker room.
From there, Bergeron went right to Massachusetts General Hospital, where a puncture was found in the lung.
“I kind of had trouble breathing a little bit,” he said. “I felt like my chest was closing in on me so the doctors didn’t want to take any chances. There’s an X-ray machine (in the locker room), but they couldn’t tell, really. It wasn’t clear enough for them. They wanted to make sure and, luckily enough, they made the right decision because I went there right away and they found out that my lung had collapsed.”
General manager Peter Chiarelli said he thought the lung was punctured after the game.
“If it had happened during the game, he would have felt the pain and then he wouldn’t have been able to play,” Chiarelli said last week.
At the hospital, a tube was put in his left side for a few days to remove air from the area where the lung collapsed and make sure it stayed inflated, Bergeron said. Some teammates visited him there on Wednesday, the day he was released.
“It was actually nice to see a bunch of guys and be able to talk a little bit,” he said.
While he recovers, he hopes to get an extension of his three-year contract that runs through next season.
Bergeron tied for the team lead with nine playoff goals and had 15 points. He led the NHL in winning faceoffs, and he won the Selke Trophy as the league’s top defensive forward the previous season.
So he’s “very confident” he’ll get an extension.
“It would mean a lot,” Bergeron said. “It’s a team that believed in me when I was 18 and when I was coming up and now, like I said before, it’s my home. I feel like it is, and I love the city. I love the people, definitely love the organization.”
He’d love another Stanley Cup. That’s why he played through the pain.
“There’s no regrets on my part,” he said. “I did whatever I could’ve done to help my team and try to be there for our biggest game of the year.”