June 27, 2013

NHL Notebook: Bergeron's valor couldn't save Bruins

The Associated Press

BOSTON - Patrice Bergeron has a punctured lung and is at a Boston-area hospital for observation.

The Bruins forward was admitted Monday night after Boston lost to Chicago 3-2 in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup final at TD Garden -- a defeat that ended the season.

"He played through all of this and he was a warrior," General Manager Peter Chiarelli said. "I can't say enough about his performance and what he did while being injured."

Bergeron was already slowed by injuries headed into what proved to be the last game. He was a question mark to even play due to a broken rib and torn cartilage. After not participating in the morning skate Monday, he appeared during warmups and played in the loss. In the first period, though, he suffered a separated shoulder.

"After the game, obviously, he was in pain from his ribs and stuff like that, which is an automatic thing. The doctors said let's send him to the hospital for observation, so he went there," Coach Claude Julien said. "I think they did the right thing and the right job by sending him there.

"And then he just stayed."

Bergeron had 10 goals and 32 points in the shortened regular season, as well as nine and 15, respectively, in the postseason. Combined he had a plus-26 rating this year as the Bruins won the Northeast Division, and defeated the Maple Leafs, Rangers and Penguins to secure a second Eastern Conference title in three seasons.

"It was a challenge," Julien said. "I think the biggest one, as we mentioned there, we had some guys, some key guys, that were injured along the way, and on a lot of occasions we weren't able to finish with the same number we started."

And so an offseason of question marks is off and running in Boston, as the Bruins look to keep their solid nucleus in town while also plotting for the future.

Forward Nathan Horton will become a free agent next month and in a class that doesn't feature a lot of star power, is easily one of the most marketable, skilled players available.

"I have enjoyed my time here obviously. Two out of three years I've been here we've been in the Stanley Cup final and we've won one time and I said a million times, the guys in the room are amazing," Horton said. "It's been a lot of fun, and I really enjoy everyone and every player on the team."

One potential drawback to Horton is he will require offseason shoulder surgery.

"When you make a decision to try and bring back guys that are on the eve of free agency, you'd like to think that you can make the right decision before the last possible moment. Usually that's what I try and do," Chiarelli said. "I try to be proactive and try to get ahead of stuff, and this year it was too hard. Specifically on Nathan, I put him in with the rest of the group. They've been moving targets and I'm going to try to push through it now."

One part of the team that became even stronger in the postseason was defensive depth. With injuries to several defensemen, Chiarelli was able to flex some organizational numbers on the blue line that will allow the Bruins to let some higher-priced, older players walk away.

Defenseman Andrew Ference, for instance, won't be re-signed and his place will likely be filled by Dougie Hamilton, Matt Bartkowski and Torey Krug, who all played in the postseason.

"We're losing not just a good player but also a leader in the dressing room and everything else," Julien said of Ference. "He's always gone above and beyond with the little things in the dressing room and everything that comes with it. He's been a good teammate, smart."

Ference played in just 14 of 22 playoff games with two assists.

"He's been part of this, what we've built here. (He brings that) warrior-type of attitude and playing style for his size," Chiarelli said. "You can't say enough about his leadership and what he's brought to our organization. It was a tough conversation to have."

Forward Jaromir Jagr, the game's leading active scorer who was acquired at the trading deadline from Dallas, didn't score in the postseason and will also not be back. The 41-year-old native of the Czech Republic, who has been on three teams the last two seasons, hopes to find another this summer.

"I thought he spread out our power play, which helped our power play," Chiarelli said. "I was real happy with Jaromir. I thought he really helped that cause."

Chiarelli also would like to re-sign backup goalie Anton Khudobin but wants to lock up starter Tuukka Rask first. Rask is looking for a long-term deal.

"That would be an ideal situation, I think, to play here forever," he said. "I hope we can make that happen."

Chiarelli has not made a decision yet on veteran defenseman Wade Redden, a late-season acquisition who played sparingly in the postseason. Forward Jay Pandolfo will not be re-signed.

SHARKS: San Jose re-signed low-scoring forwards Andrew Desjardins and James Sheppard before they could become restricted free agents next month.

 

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