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Friday, October 8, 2010

Bergeron's extension the right move at right time for Bruins

The Boston Bruins announced that center Patrice Bergeron has agreed to a three-year extension that will pay him $15 million.

Regardless of whether you think the cap hit is a little high given his production, it's the right move because Bergeron's contributions go well beyond a myopic focus on numbers alone. He plays a lot of minutes and with Marc Savard out, he's more than capable of being a solid second-line center for the team. Bergeron is one of the most unheralded defensive forwards in the game, and his high-end hockey sense and passing ability doesn't garner him enough credit because he hasn't put up huge numbers over his career. This could be a year more in line with his 70-point production, however, which would be huge for Boston.

It's hard for me to fathom that it's already been seven years since the B's drafted the relative unknown in the second round of the '03 draft with the compensation pick they got for Bill Guerin signing with Dallas.

I lucked out in that I was staying at the same hotel with Patrice, and spent a Sunday afternoon with him after seeing him hanging out in the hotel lobby, using the one lobby computer to surf the net. He was an earnest, mature-beyond-his-years kid back then, and in hindsight, it wasn't tough to predict that he would have the immediate NHL success he did. I'm happy to say that the Bergeron I got to know that day is the same guy he is today-- success never spoiled him or went to his head. Establishing a strong personal relationship with Bergeron was one of the first real breaks I got covering the Bruins, and I'm glad to say that I've had a front-row seat for his continued growth and maturation as an NHL player over the past seven years.

It's a shame that his progress was derailed by the Randy Jones hit that cost him much of the '07-08 season, but he appears to be getting stronger as we go, and people sometimes forget that he's only coming into his prime at age 25.

Bergeron is one of those players winning teams possess in spades, and Peter Chiarelli knew that. It's why the team won't leave Prague without the modern "Mr. Bruin" in the fold for three more years.

Now, if they can get Zdeno Chara to lock in at a reduced rate for the next few seasons, the GM's to-do list will be about complete.

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