Now, don’t get me wrong, Zdeno Chara is a great captain for the Boston Bruins, but Patrice Bergeron should’ve been named the captain this season.
This is by no means a beat-up on Zdeno Chara; he epitomises what you want in a captain; a battle-hardened veteran and a warrior to boot (his Stanley Cup Final broken jaw springs to mind). However, Patrice Bergeron has been waiting for the honor for so long that it’d almost feel right to hand it on whilst he still can come up with the goods for the Boston Bruins.
Handing it to him when he’s over the hill and no longer producing at the same rate feels like a bad decision, but equally so does skipping over him when Chara eventually retires.
Hence, having Zdeno personally hand him the reigns (with his blessing of course), heck maybe even having a co-captaincy this campaign, would’ve been both symbolic but also a very dignified way to start passing the torch.
Chara is no longer the dominant force he once was, pairing him with Charlie McAvoy is as much about helping the youngster adapt to the NHL as it is about allowing the young one to cover for the deficiencies that have emerged in Chara’s game as he entered his forties.
Recently, Patrice Bergeron has found himself in the spotlight for his leadership, namely with his support of Gemel Smith and his message of ‘do not suffer alone’, as reported by The Athletic (subscription required).
Professional sports is taxing on any person’s mental health; last year was taxing enough for Boston Bruins fans, let alone what the athletes themselves are feeling. Bergeron reaching out to Smith sums up exactly what leadership is all about.
Sure, it’s about being the first to go up and lift the Cup, it’s about being the conduit between on-ice officials and the rest of your team, it’s about ceremonial puck-drops, but more than all of that, it’s about being the right character and leading your team.
Patrice Bergeron not only oozes class but won over a large chunk of the hockey world, regardless of the team they go for, with his simple offering of a friendly ear. Depression is a silent enemy and Gemel Smith was lucky enough to have someone like Bergeron looking out for him.
The time is right for the Boston Bruins to see this and give Patrice Bergeron an honor he truly deserves. It wouldn’t be a slight against Chara, in fact you’d have to hope that he sees it for exactly what it would be – sharing that honor.
Given that these days, and actually for some time now, Bergeron leads the team from the first line, whereas Chara is no longer see nights of near thirty minutes ice-time, it’s the perfect timing.
Obviously, it hasn’t been done. The Boston Bruins are too classy to take the ‘C’ away from Zdeno Chara in what may be his retirement season. It feels a little like a missed opportunity.