BOSTON -- The sting of surrendering two goals in the final 1:16 of regulation, losing 3-2 and then having to watch the Chicago Blackhawks hoist the Stanley Cup on their home ice forever will gnaw at the members of the 2013 Boston Bruins. Even if some of these players go on to win another Stanley Cup, they always will remember the pit in their stomachs as they watched the promise of a Game 7 slip away.
But they also will never forget what their alternate captain, Patrice Bergeron, did to give them a chance at their second Stanley Cup in three seasons. Tyler Seguin, Bergeron's linemate of the last two seasons who is still trying to reach his full potential, can take an invaluable lesson from seeing Bergeron hit the ice after ending up in a Chicago hospital after Game 5.
"I think even when he was getting dressed in the locker room before the game, you could feel the boys' spirits lifted," a teary-eyed Seguin said after Game 6. "The year we won he was doing the same thing; fighting through everything. Obviously guys have bumps and bruises, but he’s a guy that you obviously say is the heart and soul of our team. He wears that ‘B’ with a lot of pride."
If someone hadn't asked him, Bergeron wouldn't have mentioned what he had been going through over the past few days. But Bergeron's medical report showed how true Seguin's words are.
"I had a broken rib, torn cartilage and muscles, and I had a separated shoulder," Bergeron said. "The shoulder was tonight so, I [got] a lot of help from the medical staff."
Yes, you read that correctly. Bergeron not only entered the do-or-die Game 6 with a broken rib, torn cartilage and muscles, he then separated his shoulder during the game and played on, finishing the game with 17:45 of ice time and doing everything he could to will his team to Game 7. But the humble Bergeron wasn't worried about the pain he was in.
"It’s the Stanley Cup final, everyone’s banged up, everyone wants to help the team and obviously I couldn't do that in Game 5," Bergeron said. "It was mostly because they were worried about my spleen being hurt, so that's why we had to go to the hospital. But everything was fine so it was just the ribs and the muscles and the soft tissue. So obviously I would have liked to stay in it, but I was going through a lot of pain."
But even though he was in more physical agony following Game 6, the emotional pain seemed to be hurting the 27-year-old leader the most.
"There’s not many words that can be said right now," Bergeron said. "It’s definitely tough to lose, especially at this time, after everything we’ve been through. You work so hard just to get to this point and give yourself a chance to get the Cup. And you feel like you’re right there, and you have a chance to force Game 7. Definitely it hurts."
Seguin by no means was playing at the level of Bergeron in this playoff run. Bergeron scored the game winner that helped the Bruins escape the first-round battle with the Maple Leafs and went on to have a Conn Smythe-worthy postseason with nine goals and 15 points in 22 games.
But while Seguin struggled to find the back of the net, scoring just one postseason goal, he was doing things he often has been criticized for not doing: hitting, driving into the dirty areas and digging the puck out of the corners.
Sound familiar? Those are elements of Bergeron's game every night. While Seguin can't say he brings that night in and night out, seeing Bergeron's effort, will and determination can only help him get closer to that point and inspire him to come back next season as a more complete player.
Seguin acknowledged that a chronic condition -- likely the hip issue Joe McDonald of ESPNBoston.com reported on last season -- had been acting up recently and that he would be seeing doctors Tuesday. So already, he is following in Bergeron's footsteps and playing through pain for his teammates.
But Seguin's emotions after Game 6 showed in spite of his lack of points, he seems to have learned what it takes to be a star in the NHL, with Bergeron providing the shining example.
"You learn from it, and you use it for motivation. I’ve never felt so motivated in my life," Seguin said. "When you look around the room, whether it’s a guy like Bergeron fighting through everything, or just guys stepping up, [David] Krejci, the way he played in these playoffs, and how big of a performer he was, and that whole line, and [Tuukka] Rask.
"I’ve never felt anything like this," Seguin said as he teared up again. "I’ve never cried for as long as I’ve known until tonight. It sucks, but I love the guys in this locker room, and I’m going to miss them this offseason. But I’m going to make sure I’m working even harder for next year."