Patrice Bergeron knew as early as last summer that there was a good chance the 2022-23 season would be his last. For 81 games, it was not only a memorable final act, but a historic one, as the Bruins broke the NHL records for wins and points.
Of course, things didn’t end the way Bergeron and the Bruins were hoping they would. Bergeron suffered a herniated disk in the final regular-season game in Montreal, missed four playoff games as a result, and the Bruins ultimately lost to the Florida Panthers in seven games in the first round.
Appearing on The Greg Hill Show as part of the WEEI/NESN Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon presented by Arbella Insurance on Tuesday (listen to the full interview below), Bergeron was asked if he would still play in that final game against the Canadiens if he could do it over.
“Yeah, I would,” Bergeron said. “First of all, a lot of people are saying I played that game because it was Montreal. Even if it was a Philly game or wherever it was, it was a game that the whole lineup was supposed to play. That was the plan all along from Coach Montgomery. I did miss four games before that to heal the body. It wasn’t like one particular injury that occurred. I was healthy. Hindsight’s 20/20. You look back, of course you don’t play that game if you know what’s going to happen.
“It’s easy to be the Monday quarterback, but at the same time, at that moment I’m healthy. As a team, you want to play the full lineup to get ready for the postseason. That’s what happened. It’s unfortunate, but there’s nothing I could’ve done at that point. There were no signs before the game that would’ve led towards saying I was going to get hurt.”
Bergeron acknowledged that the Bruins’ stunning first-round loss gave him some pause when it came to his decision to retire given that it’s obviously not the ending he would have wanted, but that he ultimately knew he was making the right call.
“A lot of signs during the season kind of led me towards that decision at the end,” Bergeron said. “But of course, you finish the regular season with the best record ever, you’re aspiring to great things in the playoffs. Of course it was a very disappointing ending for everyone, especially for us as players having to go through all that.
“So yeah, I guess for a little bit of time I was second-guessing it and kind of thinking, but at the same time, there were too many things and too many signs. Of course the body is number one, and all the mileage I put on myself and the amount of games and amount of years. Unfortunately, it just led me to make the right decision for myself and for my family, and it was to hang 'em up. Of course I wish I could continue to play forever. It’s a lifelong passion and I’m going to miss it, but at the same time, I’m at peace with my decision. I know it’s the best decision for myself.”