Patrice Bergeron's retirement alters the Atlantic Division
One of the best hangs it up and the door for the Buffalo Sabres and others to ascend opens wide
Players like Patrice Bergeron are the kind of prize teams thank their lucky stars and their scouting staffs alike for landing years and years after the fact and for good reason.
The Boston Bruins had a No. 1 center for nearly two decades and he wasn’t even the No. 1 guy when he stepped into the lineup at 18 years old. Joe Thornton was the man then and Bergeron got to slip into the lineup almost immediately after he was the 45th overall pick in the 2003 draft.
Bergeron lost games to concussions early in his career but rebounded to become the best defensive forward in the game, a six-time Selke Award winner (2012, 2014, 2015, 2017, 2022, 2023) and helped the Bruins win the Stanley Cup in 2011 and two other finals trips in 2013 and 2019.
This will be the first time since 2003 Bergeron won’t be in the Bruins lineup and his absence creates a chasm up the middle for them, particularly since David Krejci is looking like he’s not coming back either. Boston may go from having steady, fantastic production and defense at center to having Charlie Coyle and Pavel Zacha being the one-two punch up the middle. They’re good players and you can’t replace guys like Bergeron, but the question marks left behind are enormous and what was already a fraught and anxious offseason for Boston gets that much scarier for last year’s Presidents’ Trophy winners.
One team’s sadness is another’s reason to be encouraged and everyone else in the Atlantic Division is ready to fill the potential power vacuum within. But the timing of this (along with all of Boston’s lineup turnover) with Buffalo’s rise couldn’t be better.
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