Patrice Bergeron looks for fresh start

September, 16, 2010

If you're Patrice Bergeron, the 2009-10 season will forever be memorable for all kinds of reasons.

A mixed bag, really.

On the one hand, there's the image of him setting up the winning goal in the Winter Classic at Fenway Park, a moment that underlined his full-circle comeback from a career-threatening concussion two years before. And there's the memory he cares about most -- standing on the ice at GM Place in Vancouver and belting out the words to "O Canada" in late February.

And yet, Bergeron can't pick and choose his 2009-10 memories. He can't forget the second-round playoff collapse against the Philadelphia Flyers; the Bruins became the first team in 35 years to blow a 3-0 series lead.

Quite the season for the 25-year-old Boston Bruins center.

"Obviously, I was honored and happy with the Olympics. To have a chance to win a gold medal in Canada, that will be something I will never forget, that's for sure," Bergeron told this week. "But at the same time, with the Bruins, it didn't finish like we wanted. So it was a weird season, I guess."

The talented Bergeron is a character player and, along with captain Zdeno Chara and the other leaders on the B's, he'll need to make sure his dressing room has healed and turned the page on last spring's sickening turn of events.

"Looking back at it, it was tough to swallow," said Bergeron. "It took me a while to get past that, but we have to move forward. We're a great team. We showed that last year. We didn't get the result against Philly, but at the same time, there's 29 teams that are not satisfied with last year. It's only Chicago that won the Cup."

Well put.

So what exactly do we have in these Bruins this season? To me, they are the real X factor in the Eastern Conference. I suspect you'll see prognosticators vary wildly as they size them up. Some will see them as the club that won the Eastern Conference two years ago; others will view them as the team that struggled at times last season and folded so badly against the Flyers.

Can they re-establish themselves as a legitimate contender along with the Eastern powerhouses in Philly, Pittsburgh, Washington and New Jersey?

"I think we have the team to do that," Bergeron said. "I think we can do some good things."

The Bruins begin the regular season in Prague on Oct. 9-10 with weekend games against the Phoenix Coyotes. The trip will be kicked off with an exhibition matchup against the Belfast Giants in Ireland on Oct. 2.

The league's annual trek to Europe, in its fourth year now, can be seen as a distraction by some players, but Bergeron is stressing the positive.

"I'm looking forward to it," said Bergeron, who totaled 52 points (19-33) in 73 regular-season games last season. "I actually have family roots in Ireland, so it should be a lot of fun. Obviously, being on the road in Europe will create a bond and good chemistry for the team right away. That's a good thing."

And it won't be his first time in Prague. I was there myself in the spring of 2004 when a young Bergeron helped Canada capture the men's world championship, a team coached by Mike Babcock and also featuring the likes of Scott Niedermayer, Roberto Luongo, Danny Briere and Jay Bouwmeester.

"I was 18 years old and we won gold," Bergeron said. "The city is beautiful and I really look forward to being there again."

And he looks forward to turning the page on last season.

Pierre LeBrun

ESPN Senior Writer


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