At this point in his career, Patrice Bergeron welcomes any break that manages to pop up on his schedule.
The 33-year-old center has started to see injuries pile up over the last couple of seasons — the latest being a rib/sternoclavicular injury that put him on the shelf for 16 games earlier this year.
In total, Bergeron has missed a combined 34 games over the past two seasons due to a number of ailments — including a nagging groin injury that required offseason surgery, a broken foot and the aforementioned upper-body ailment.
It’s a far cry from Bergeron’s stretch from 2010-17 in which he suited up in 523 of a possible 540 games, but you’d be hard-pressed to find someone speaking ill of Bergeron’s toughness out on the ice.
Still, keeping Bergeron fresh for the second half of the season (and hopefully the playoffs) is a crucial objective for the Bruins — an endeavor made a bit easier with Boston’s upcoming bye week. A seven-day break is mandated for all NHL teams each season, with the Bruins and nine other clubs featuring bye weeks leading up to and including the league’s All-Star Weekend, which will be held in San Jose from Jan. 25-26.
As a result, Boston will enjoy an extended break, with the B’s final game before the break coming against the Rangers at TD Garden on Jan. 19. The next game for Boston? Jan. 29 at home against Winnipeg.
“I prefer the break now, where it’s (10) teams or whatever, it’s broken up fairly evenly,” Bruce Cassidy said of the long break. “I think a few years ago, I think it was spaced out over a longer period of time. So you’d be coming off a break playing against a team that didn't’. So I thought that there could be a competitive advantage, either way. So I like that it’s set up that way.
"Butting up against the All-Star break, is seven or eight days a long time in the regular season? It sure seems to me it is. But I get a family vacation out of it, so what the heck?”
The extended break will allow most of Boston’s roster to both enjoy some time away from the rink and lick their wounds — while the club’s lone representative in San Jose will be David Pastrnak.
However, for the past week, Bergeron also found himself in a bit of limbo — with the top-line center potentially set to pack his bags for the West Coast if Bruins fans (or rather, the competition) saw it fit.
While Bergeron did not make the initial All-Star roster for the stacked Atlantic Division, he was featured in the NHL’s “Last Man In” competition — an online vote that would determine the final entrant for each of the Atlantic, Metropolitan, Central and Pacific Divisions.
Bergeron didn’t show much enthusiasm at the thought of participating in the All-Star Game when speaking with 98.5 The Sports Hub’s “Toucher and Rich” on Wednesday — noting that he’d rather remain with his family during the bye week.
Some well-deserved R&R is an appropriate reward for Bergeron, but he was quick to divert any talk regarding his All-Star Game trepidations away from his recent injury history.
“I think it’s one of those things where many guys, if not all guys, are going through (injuries) and are doing it and still show up on the ice or show up at practice," Bergeron said. "I think it’d be kind of wrong to send that message that I’m entitled to complain or say anything about it. I think it’s just about trying to be a good teammate and keep your problems to yourself."
Rather than point to his health, Bergeron noted that he had a much more important obligation for the bye week.
“I’ve got a newborn baby boy, so obviously that time off would be nice to be home," he said.
Speaking a day later at Warrior Ice Arena, Bergeron noted that he meant “no disrespect” when he said he’d rather not get voted into the annual exhibition showcase, adding that he would indeed make the trip if he earned the most nods online.
“That’s not a good way to, I guess, to make a sales pitch,” Bergeron said. “So, yeah, we’ll see what happens. If that’s what fans want, I guess I’ll be there. Otherwise, I’ll appreciate their non-votes.”
— Joe Giza (@JoeGiza) January 10, 2019
Much to Bergeron’s likely relief, he will not have to make any unexpected trek to San Jose — as the Sabres’ Jeff Skinner revealed as the winner for the Atlantic Division on Friday.
It’s a win-win for the Bruins and Bergeron. The added time off will allow the center to rest up and spend more time with his family, while also avoiding a tough decision that would have arisen had he won the vote.
While Bergeron said he would have attended the All-Star Game had he been voted in, he certainly wouldn’t have been the first star to opt to skip out on the weekend if he felt strongly about it.