BOSTON (CBS) — While national hockey writers spent part of the last week debating just how injured is too injured to play in a postseason hockey game, the fact remained that Bruins alternate captain Patrice Bergeron is one tough cookie.
The B’s center played through a cracked rib and torn cartilage in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final, a night when he also suffered a separated shoulder. Bergeron left the rink that night and headed to the hospital, where he spent the better part of three days. General manager Peter Chiarelli later revealed that Bergeron sustained a “small hole” in his lung, though nobody was quite sure how or when that happened.
Due to his hospital stay, Bergeron missed the team’s “break-up” day last week. Though he did not have to, he made up for it by speaking with the media on Tuesday, when he said he does not need any surgery on his injuries and expects to be ready to go when next season begins.
“I should be fine for the beginning of camp for sure, hopefully. I’m pretty positive that I will be,” Bergeron said, though he did admit he didn’t have a set timetable just yet.
Bergeron said he first suffered the torn cartilage in Game 4 when he was hit hard into the boards by Michael Frolik, and it worsened in Game 5 in Chicago when he was hit in the ribs. With his pain escalating, doctors feared he may have suffered a spleen injury, which is why he was sent to the hospital during Game 5. After doctors deemed his spleen to be OK, Bergeron flew home with the team and met with doctors, who treated him with a nerve block to dull the pain. During Game 6, he suffered the separated shoulder and his pain grew, so doctors gave him another nerve block.
“After Game 6, I had kind of trouble breathing a little bit,” Bergeron said. “I felt like my chest was closing in on me, so the doctors didn’t want to take any chances on me.”
He detailed the procedure doctors performed on him to repair the collapsed lung.
“Right away I guess they found that out, so the specialist came and did a procedure on me,” Bergeron said. “So they have to I guess put a hole through my rib cage and put a tube in there. Then it goes in the lung area, or in between the rib cage and the lung, because it’s air I guess that takes the space of the lung, so that’s why the lung kind of shrinks. So the tube is put in place to suck the air out, so there’s a machine that sucks the air out of it to make sure that the lung expands and takes place I guess where it should be. And they needed to leave that there for a couple of days and make sure that it’s not going to shrink back. That’s why I stayed for three days at the hospital.”
As far as any danger he faced while playing, Bergeron didn’t seem overly concerned.
“I don’t know if there’s pride. Some people would say it’s stupid, but it just goes with the way it is,” Bergeron said. “I’m just … you don’t think at that point. You’re just trying to help the team, you try to do whatever it takes. You obviously don’t want to put your health in danger. We had the conversations with the doctors, and you never know what’s going to happen in the games, so it’s always a risk. At the same time, it’s our passion, it’s what you want to do. You want to definitely win, that’s the most important thing. At that stage, at that point, there’s no regrets on my part, I’ll tell you that.
“I don’t know if there’s necessarily pride. I just did whatever any of my other teammates would have done. There’s other guys that have done it. Soupy [Gregory Campbell] is one example this year, and Rex [Mark Recchi] was the perfect example as well. So that’s it. I did whatever I could’ve done to help my team and try to be there for our biggest game of the year.”
Though Bergeron answered all of the media’s questions about his injuries, he made it clear that he doesn’t think what he did was anything out of the ordinary for a hockey player in the Stanley Cup Final.
“I know all the guys would have done the same thing,” Bergeron said of his teammates. “I know at this point, at this stage, that you do everything to win. You put everything on the line to help your team. It’s basically what I did. I’m 100 percent confident everyone else would have done the same thing. There’s a lot of really tough guys on our team. I don’t feel like I should take all the praise. I’m not the only one that would’ve done that.”
When the Bruins led Game 6 in the final minutes, Bergeron said that he was planning on playing in Game 7.
“At that point, I thought so. I was just thinking I was going to do the same thing all over and hopefully I can go through it,” Bergeron said. “But now that I can look back, I would’ve been in the hospital, so I wouldn’t have been able to play the game.”
Bergeron will turn 28 this month, but he’s been a member of the Bruins since 2003, when he was 18 years old. He’s entering the final year of his contract, but there have been rumblings that he and the Bruins have been working on a long-term extension that would keep Bergeron as the centerpiece of the team for a very long time. Though he couldn’t talk about specific contract talks, Bergeron did answer a question about what it would mean for him to play his entire career in Boston.
“It would mean a lot. That’s the goal. Since the beginning, it’s a team that’s believed in me when I was 18 and when I was coming up. Now, like I said before, it’s my home. I feel like it is. I love the city, I love the people and definitely love the organization. It would mean a lot to me, and hopefully we can work something out.”