Up until the final 1:17 in Game 6 of the NHL Stanley Cup Finals, it looked like both the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks would be preparing for Game 7 tonight. However, a collapse for the history books led to the Blackhawks hoisting the Stanley Cup and the Bruins returning to the TD Garden Wednesday to clear out their lockers for team break-up day.
Needless to say, it was the opposite of what the team wanted on their schedule.
There are already a good amount of stories coming out from the team’s last day in front of the media before training camp. One of them is just how much of a warrior Patrice Bergeron was at the end of Finals.
At the end of Game 6, Bergeron notified the media that he had been playing with a cracked rib, torn cartilage as well as a separated shoulder suffered in the final game. This alone was enough to declare him tough as nails.
Today, though, we found out he was also playing with a hole in his lung and has been in the hospital since Monday night.
Say what you will about the bravery of hockey players and walking a fine line between pride and stupidity, but never doubt the dedication of Bergeron. Arguably the Bruins’ best player, he knew the situation and how badly the team needed him, refusing to sit out with a laundry list of injuries that, individually, would sideline a normal human.
There’s no other sport with players this tough. Next time you read about a basketball player sitting out of a game because of cramps, just think of Bergeron.
One sad bit of news coming from the arena today is that defenseman Andrew Ference‘s time in Boston is coming to an end.
This is hardly a surprise. The team is cap-strapped as it is and still has some key players to re-sign. Ference had a rough regular season and certainly didn’t merit a lucrative deal.
That being said, this is a tough loss for the Bruins. What Ference lacked in shutdown skill or offensive prowess he more than made up for with moxie and character. One of the few players who resided in Boston full-time, his efforts among the community were endless. Both he and winger Shawn Thornton were active in helping the city after the horrific Boston Marathon bombings.
In the locker room, he was definitely a glue guy, keeping the team together in good times and bad. And if any opponent crossed the line against the Bruins, Ference always seemed to be first in the foray to make sure the issue was dealt with despite his lack of size.
With up-and-comers Dougie Hamilton, Torey Krug and Matt Bartkowski ready for action, it made little sense to hang on to Ference. A class act defined, he will surely be missed next year and beyond.
Joining Ference in spending his last day as a Bruin was Jaromir Jagr. This also is no surprise. The veteran winger is well past his prime and also didn’t contribute a ton to Boston. He was brought in to help score goals but only tallied two in the regular season and playoffs combined.
With the Bruins making the Eastern Conference Finals, the conditional draft pick sent to the Dallas Stars for Jagr’s services became a first rounder. It’s safe to say the Czech sniper hardly earned that type of compensation.
Boston GM Peter Chiarelli intimated the top priority for the team’s offseason is securing goalie Tuukka Rask to a long-term deal. Rask admitted he hopes to be with the Bruins forever, and with his postseason play he’s certainly earned himself a hefty deal.
Chiarelli also implied he would like to re-sign unrestricted free agent Nathan Horton. Though he’s guilty of inconsistent play from time to time, Horton does play a big role for the Bruins. The problem is there doesn’t seem to be enough cap room to bring him back and give Rask the money he deserves. Goalie-starved teams, such as the Philadelphia Flyers, may try and woo Rask away with an expensive offer sheet, and it’s imperative that Chiarelli prevents this from happening.
Needless to say, today is the beginning of a very interesting offseason in Boston.