Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara, of Slovakia, packs belongings in the team locker room Wednesday, June 26, 2013, in Boston, two days after losing to the Chicago Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Final. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
BOSTON - Patrice Bergeron has a punctured lung and is at a Boston-area hospital for observation.
The Bruins forward was admitted Monday night, after Boston lost to Chicago, 3-2, in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final at TD Garden—a defeat which ended the season.
Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli and coach Claude Julien addressed Bergeron's status Wednesday, the same day they held exit interviews with the players.
"He played through all of this, and he was a warrior," Chiarelli said. "I can't say enough about his performance and what he did while being injured."
Bergeron was already slowed by injuries headed into Game 6. He was a question mark to even play due to a broken rib and torn cartilage. After not participating in the morning skate Monday, he appeared during warmups and played in the loss. In the first period, though, he suffered a separated shoulder.
"After the game, obviously, he was in pain from his ribs and stuff like that, which is an automatic thing. The doctors said let's send him to the hospital for observation, so he went there," Julien said. "I think they did the right thing and the right job by sending him there.
"And then he just stayed."
Bergeron had 10 goals and 32 points in the shortened regular season, as well as nine and 15, respectively, in the post-season. Combined, he had a plus-26 rating this year as the Bruins finished second in the Northeast Division, and defeated the Maple Leafs, Rangers and Penguins to secure a second Eastern Conference title in three seasons.
"It was a challenge," Julien said. "I think the biggest one, as we mentioned there, we had some guys, some key guys, that were injured along the way, and on a lot of occasions, we weren't able to finish with the same number we started."
And so an off-season of question marks is off and running in Boston, as the Bruins look to keep their solid nucleus in town while also plot for the future.
Forward Nathan Horton will become a free agent next month, and in a class that's regarded as weak and doesn't feature a lot of star power, he is easily one of the most marketable, skilled players available.
"I have enjoyed my time here obviously. Two out of three years, I've been here we've been in the Stanley Cup and we've won one time and I said a million times, the guys in the room are amazing," Horton said. "It's been a lot of fun and I really enjoy everyone and every player on the team."
One potential drawback to Horton, is he will require off-season shoulder surgery.
"When you make a decision to try and bring back guys that are on the eve of free agency, you'd like to think that you can make the right decision before the last possible moment. Usually, that's what I try and do," Chiarelli said. "I try to be proactive and try to get ahead of stuff, and this year it was too hard. Specifically on Nathan, I put him in with the rest of the group. They've been moving targets and I'm going to try to push through it now.
"It's not the ideal way, but I'm going to try to push through it now."
One part of the team that became even stronger in the post-season was defensive depth. With injuries to several defencemen, Chiarelli was able to flex some organizational numbers on the blue line that will allow the Bruins to let some higher-priced, older players walk away.
Defenceman Andrew Ference, for instance, will not be re-signed, and his place will likely be filled by Dougie Hamilton, Matt Bartkowski and Torey Krug, who all played in the playoffs.
"We're losing not just a good player, but also a leader in the dressing room and everything else," Julien said of Ference. "He's always gone above and beyond with the little things in the dressing room and everything that comes with it. He's been a good teammate, smart."
Ference played in just 14 of 22 playoff games with two assists.
"He's been part of this, what we've built here. (He brings that) warrior-type of attitude and playing style for his size," Chiarelli said. "You can't say enough about his leadership and what he's brought to our organization. It was a tough conversation to have."
Forward Jaromir Jagr, the game's leading active scorer who was acquired at the trading deadline from Dallas, did not score in the post-season, and will also not be back. The 41-year-old native of the Czech Republic, who has been on three teams the last two seasons, hopes to find another in the NHL this summer.
"I thought he spread out our power play, which helped our power play," Chiarelli said. "I was real happy with Jaromir. I thought he really helped that cause."
The Bruins have played in nine post-season series the last three years, winning seven of them. They have two division crowns in that time, as well.
"I think for us, the more time we spend together the better we become," forward Daniel Paille said. "We definitely have some ups and downs. But through the playoffs, I believe that we definitely come together and play for each other. I think it goes a long way and it helps us as a group."
NOTES: Chiarelli would like to re-sign backup goalie Anton Khudobin, but wants to lock up the starter, Tuukka Rask, first. Rask is looking for a long-term deal. "That would be an ideal situation, I think, to play here forever," he said. "I hope we can make that happen." ... Chiarelli has not made a decision yet on veteran defenceman Wade Redden, though it's likely that Hamilton, Krug or Bartkowski could take his position as well. Redden will become a free agent next month. "I want to play and I want to be on a good team," Redden said. "I guess we'll see what options are going to happen for me this summer." ... Veteran forward Jay Pandolfo, a native of Winchester, Mass., who signed with the club during the season as an extra forward, will not be re-signed.