Patrice Bergeron retired in the offseason, leaving the Bruins with a leadership void. Michael Dwyer/Associated Press

BOSTON — The Bruins will enter the 2023-24 NHL season without Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci after the pair retired over the summer. Their absences will certainly leave a hole in the team in more ways than one. But players like David Pastrnak – who played alongside both of them since his 2014-15 rookie season – knows Bergeron and Krejci will leave a lasting legacy.

Once practices get rolling, it will kick in that they’ll no longer be playing.

“Pretty sure it’s gonna kick in as things get started,” Pastrnak said. “Those are two legendary guys in Boston retired now. So it’s definitely gonna kick in. Gonna miss them a lot, but it’s an opportunity for other guys and there’s some spots to grab. And for us a team it’s easy to get excited to take a step forward and continue what those two guys did.”

It won’t be easy to fill the void Bergeron and Krejci left behind. Both served vital leadership roles, with Bergeron taking over as the team captain in 2021 after Zdeno Chara signed with the Washington Capitals in free agency. Pastrnak has been through this before – learning to play without someone who was around for so long. But one of the benefits from playing under people like Chara, Krejci and Bergeron is the fact that Pastrnak now gets to take what he’s learned from them and apply it to not only his game, but also to how he helps lead the team going forward.

“In my time, I had Zee and Bergy here and Krejc. I mean half of the team who is here now, you spend time with those guys and we are privileged to have learned from these guys and grow as a player, as a human being. And not everybody gets so lucky to play under the leadership like we had the last couple of decades that they had been here. The easiest way to put it is the way they built it, it’s where a lot of guys will take steps now and take care of each other together.

“You check up on every single guy,” he added. “You’re here every day, these guys are like your second family. We all know that’s our job here but at the same time, every single guy in this room has a life, family and kids. So it’s very important to check up because … you help each other out, you’re there for each other. That’s definitely something that Bergy wouldn’t miss a day to check up on a guy and help him out with whatever. …”


Pastrnak figures to be a leader of the Bruins during the upcoming season, along with Brad Marchand, Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo and Milan Lucic. The culture Chara and Bergeron left behind is one that the current players want to continue, and it’s clear they’re going to do that.

THE BRUINS brought back forward Danton Heinen on a professional tryout contract three years after they traded him to the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for Nick Ritchie. There’s no hard feelings for Heinen, who spent his first four seasons in Boston.

“It’s a business,” Heinen said at Warrior Ice Arena after Monday’s captain’s practice. “It caught me off guard a little bit. But that’s the nature of the beat. There’s things that happen and I loved my time here. It is what it is. No hard feelings. I’m happy to be back.”

Heinen will compete with several others for a spot on the roster, including players in Providence who are close to being NHL mainstays. There are no surprises when it comes to what the Bruins expect from Heinen when training camp rolls around, though. The 28-year-old knows what he has to do to stick with Boston.

“Yeah, I talked to (General Manager Don Sweeney) and that was pretty much it,” he said. “Just come in, compete try to win your battles and go from there. I know they’re fair here and just want to get the best team on the ice. So it’s my job to try to be part of that group.”

Heinen spent the last two seasons with the Pittsburgh Penguins and tallied 51 points in 141 games. When free agency rolled around, there wasn’t a ton of interest from teams. He’s versatile, can play right and left wing and can contribute in goals and assists. While he’s not a top-liner, there is something to be said for having a solid bottom-six forward.

“The market these days is tough,” Heinen said. “There’s a lot of good players out there and not a lot of spots. So it’s kind of just what it is. This is kind of where I’m at.”

He also has history with Bruins Coach Jim Montgomery from their time at the University of Denver.

There’s a lot of familiarity for Heinen when it comes to the Bruins. And even though the team looks a little different than the first time he was here, he knows the expectations remain the same.

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