STOCKHOLM — The logic seemed sound on the surface.
If your captain, a five-time Selke Award winner as the top defensive forward in the NHL and the fourth player in franchise history to record 1,000 career points, decides to retire, you would think there would be a noticeable dip in a team’s performance.
Who didn’t figure that would happen to the Boston Bruins when center Patrice Bergeron decided to hang up his skates this offseason?
But it doesn’t end there.
Center David Krejci also decided to retire, leaving the Bruins without their top two centers from a last season. If you add the trading of forward Taylor Hall to the Chicago Blackhawks into the equation, the Bruins entered this season minus three players who had combined for 2,519 career points.
With the Bruins getting an NHL single-season record of 135 points last season, some regression was expected, given the amount of talent that had been culled from the roster.
Through 16 games, the Bruins (13-1-2) have the most points in the Eastern Conference (28). The one regulation loss is the fewest in the NHL. They are on pace for 144 points for an 82-game schedule.
It’s a sizzling start that, due the circumstances, has almost everyone in the hockey world shocked to some extent.
“I’m not surprised,” Bergeron told NHL.com in a recent phone interview. “I know the character in that locker room. I know the guys. I know they’re people that rise to the occasion.
“There are guys in there that are always in need of a new challenge when they’re told ‘No,’ like they’ve been this season. That’s kind of how they’re built.”
Bergeron heaped praise on coach Jim Montgomery. The two were only together for one season, but it was long enough for him to be convinced that the coach could be a difference maker.
“They’re well coached,” he said. “I really respect the way ‘Monty’ does things and takes care of business.
“I’m extremely happy for them. I think it’s awesome to see, especially how so many players are contributing. The way they’re coming out of their own end, the way they’re growing, I think that’s what you want to see from a team.”
Less than two months into the season, Bergeron was asked if he’s having second thoughts about stepping away from the game.
“As far as missing it, it’s kind of weird,” the 38-year-old said. “I mean, I felt I was ready. And I think the past month or so confirmed that.
“I went to opening night and the centennial celebrations. I’d been part of many opening nights as a player and I always had butterflies. I did this time, too. I didn’t know what my reaction would be.”
It didn’t take long for him to find out.
“I think I missed it for 5-10 minutes and then thought to myself, ‘I couldn’t go through a schedule like that again. I don’t think I could go through that physical grind. My body is somewhere else.’
“Mentally, I think I was somewhere else, too. I played about 20 years and that’s a lot of mileage.”
Even with that, being upset by the Florida Panthers in the Stanley Cup First Round last season had him asking if he should return because of “unfinished business.” He certainly doesn’t feel that way anymore.
“When it’s still fresh and it’s still raw, I’ll admit you wonder about it,” he said. “You ask yourself: ‘Do I really want it to end like that? It can’t end like that. Not with that heartbreak. Not with that disappointment.’
“But now? No way. You take a step back and look at your career in the big picture. You can’t make a decision based on one event. That will get you in trouble. And in the end, I made the right one.”
For now, he’s spending his days catching up on all things that go into being a dad to his four kids: Zach, 8, Victoria, 6, Noah, 4, and Felix, 4 months.
He understands that Felix will grow up never having seen his father play an NHL game. The next best thing would be if his son one day could be on hand to see his dad get into the Hockey Hall of Fame, right?
“To be honest, I’ve never thought about the Hall,” Bergeron said. “I mean, I feel like I’ve lived a childhood dream and in the process grew up as a player and a person. As for accolades and the individual stuff, I’ve never really liked the attention.
“To me, the Hall of Fame has always been far-fetched. It’s a place for legends and I’ve never considered myself to be part of that category. So, no, it’s never really something I’ve thought about.”
Given his impressive credentials, he may have to in the not-so-distant future.