“I can actually take a step back for the first time in my career,” said Bergeron, 36, without a contract for the first time since signing as an 18-year-old rookie. “It’s the first time in my life that I can just reflect on what I do want, looking forward to the future … it’s the fact that I have the opportunity to do that, take the step back, [take] time for myself, and really know what I want.”
With surgery to repair a tendon he said he injured couple of years ago, Bergeron joined a protracted list of Bruins to undergo the knife in the weeks that have followed the club’s May 14 elimination from the playoffs.
Brad Marchand (hips) is not due back until around Thanksgiving. Charlie McAvoy (shoulder) could be out until early December. Matt Grzelcyk (shoulder) should be ready about the same time as Marchand. Mike Reilly (ankle) likely will be ready by the start of the new season in October.
None of that, based on what Bergeron said during his 20-minute media session, appears to be factoring in whether he decides to continue his Hall-of-Fame-worthy career.
However, he said the days leading up to the surgery, including MRI testing and input from medical staff, delayed his decision-making process about a possible return. He did not put a timeline on how soon he’ll make his decision.
“I still have a lot of time in front of me, I guess, to make that decision,” he said. “I am going to make sure that I take all the time. I need to make the right one. Right now, I haven’t really had time [to think about it].”
The damaged elbow tendon kept Bergeron out of the lineup for four games in March. He underwent surgery Tuesday — a procedure the club did not make public, contrary to all other team personnel — and doctors told him it would be a 10-12-week recovery period.
Long among the game’s premier defensive specialists, a top faceoff artist and the league’s consummate 200-foot player, Bergeron surpassed ex-Canadiens great Bob Gainey with the fifth Selke win.
Gainey won the trophy for the first four years it was awarded (1978-81), a mark not eclipsed until Sunday. Bergeron, a finalist in the balloting the last 11 seasons, won it for the first time in 2012, and followed with wins in ’14, ’15 and ’17.
Steve Kasper, who in ’82 became the first player to win other than Gainey, is the only other Bruin to have been awarded the Selke.
“It’s definitely an honor—I think I’m humbled, that’s the first word that comes to mind,” said Bergeron, who again this past season also anchored the Bruins’ No. 1 offensive line, a distinctly different role than that which Gainey filled with the Habs. “It is an individual award, but you can’t get any of those without the help of your teammates.”
The fifth Selke adds to Bergeron’s treasure trove of awards and trophies, including the 2011 Stanley Cup — the only title here in the last 50 years—and a collection of gold medals he won with Team Canada on the international stage, including Olympic wins in 2010 and 2014.
“That’s a good question,” said Bergeron, asked to place the five Selkes in context with the rest of his accomplishments. “For sure to me, the team accomplishments are way ahead… the Cup, and the international stage like the Olympics and World Championships and whatnot… they are amazing memories.”
When “you battle and grind it out with teammates,” Bergeron added, they are the accomplishments he holds most dear.
“It’s an honor, like I said, that I really do share with my teammates,” he said. “It’s special that way because you create some bonds and friendships and there are so many people along the way that help you accomplish those things. It’s nice, but it’s hard for me to put a number, or even rank them, to be honest with you.”
Of the 195 votes cast by the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association and select broadcasters, Bergeron garnered a whopping 160 first-place votes en route to landslide win. Calgary’s Elias Lindholm (21) finished runner-up, followed by Florida Alexsander Barkov (10).
Kevin Paul Dupont can be reached at email@example.com.