Despite expiring contract, Patrice Bergeron hopes to remain in Boston after this season

bergeroncoolfaceoffphoto.jpgA few seasons before it was reasonably common for an 18-year-old player to make an immediate jump to the NHL, Patrice Bergeron accomplished that task in the 2003-04 season, scoring 39 points in 71 games. It’s honestly hard to believe that the six-year veteran is only 25 years old, especially when you consider the bumpy, concussion-plagued road he traveled.

Last year was a nice (if not spectacular) year for the two-way center as he made the 2010 Olympic team and helped the Boston Bruins make the playoffs despite Marc Savard’s injury problems. Still, you have to wonder if this might be his last season in Beantown; in fact, you never know if his $4.75 million cap hit and $5.75 million salary might make him expendable this season.

While that situation lacks some clarity, Bergeron said he wants to remain in Boston. ESPN Boston’s Joe McDonald shares Bergeron’s thoughts.

Team captain Zdeno Chara’s contract also expires after the season and Chiarelli has said he would like to retain both players. Bergeron is willing to talk during the season, but if his situation becomes a distraction to him or the team, he would rather wait until the offseason, he said.

“I never really thought about it, to be honest with you,” he said. “For now, I’m thinking about hockey and there hasn’t been [contract] talks in the last couple of weeks. I’m just thinking about hockey, but if we do come down to having conversations during the year, and I feel it’s not distracting me, I’ll keep going. If I feel like it is [a distraction], I’ll tell Peter I’d like to stay in Boston, but I’ll [talk extension] later.”

Those concussion worries will linger for some time, but Bergeron brings a nice mixture of playmaking, defensive prowess and faceoff winning skills to the table. If Boston passes on him at some point, there should be a decent amount of teams looking to add him as a second or third center next summer.

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    Measure of revenge: Kings delay clinching efforts for Flames, Blues

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    Deep down, the Los Angeles Kings probably realize that their season will end on game 82. Still, they kept their slim playoff hopes alive on Wednesday night … and managed to spite a team they’re growing to hate.

    OK, maybe the hate is almost totally focused upon Matthew Tkachuk, yet the disdain for that talented-but-tormenting rookie was palpable.

    It didn’t feel like the Kings exacted physical revenge on Tkachuk, but beating his team 4-1 ranked as classic scoreboard vengeance. With that, the Calgary Flames (and by extension the St. Louis Blues) will need to wait to clinch a playoff berth.

    Now, as much as tonight was about Tkachuk, the focus was also on a pugnacious player who once dazzled for the Flames: Jarome Iginla.

    In what might be Iginla’s final visit to Calgary – at least as an active NHL player – he was one of the best players on the ice. His fitting curtain call included a “Gordie Howe hat trick” with a spirited fight, an assist and a goal.

    Seriously, that fight with Deryk Engelland:

    That goal included a bit of luck, but hey …

    Iginla was named the first star of the contest, and cameras captured his big smile in enjoying a special night. For all the nastiness of that game, it was refreshing to see such a heartwarming moment.

    For more on the violence, check out this post on the early stuff and this one on Tkachuk’s missed missile launch on Drew Doughty.

    Kings and Canucks will square off in first NHL exhibition games in China

    graphic via NHL
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    It’s official: the NHL will hold preseason games in China before next season.

    The league made the announcement on Wednesday night: the Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks will play two exhibitions: one on Sept. 21 (Shanghai) and Sept. 23 (Beijing). How cool is that?

    “It is a privilege and an honor for the L.A. Kings to represent the National Hockey League in China as part of these two games against the Vancouver Canucks,” Kings president Luc Robitaille said. “Growing the game of hockey is something we take great pride in and it is a big priority for our hockey club and AEG as a whole. This will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for our players and our staff, and we are looking forward to the games taking place in two tremendous facilities in two remarkable cities.”

    The press conference inspired some jokes tonight.

    Some of the best bits came in roping in … Kobe Bryant and David Beckham?

    Alrighty then.

    Click here for more details.

     

    Video: Drew Doughty (mostly) avoids massive Matthew Tkachuk hit

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    Hockey is such a fast sport that it’s probably not so easy to make someone your “target.” Instead, a big hit often comes down to the right combination of circumstance and timing.

    Still, there’s no denying that Matthew Tkachuk is gunning for Drew Doughty (and the Kings are gunning for Tkachuk) on Wednesday.

    Doughty isn’t oblivious to that notion, either, as you can see him avoid what looked like a pretty terrifying hit above.

    We’ve already covered the early violence in this game, and it’s quite possible that there will be more carnage going forward. Stay tuned.

    Blackhawks bolster Central lead, shine harsh light on Penguins’ struggles

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    Blame it on injuries if you want, or emphasize the Chicago Blackhawks’ overall hot finish to the season. Either way, Chicago scorched the Pittsburgh Penguins by a score of 5-1, a contest that felt more or less over by the time the first period ended 4-0 in the Blackhawks’ favor.

    The Blackhawks scored by committee on Wednesday, with Artemi Panarin (goal, assist) and Patrick Kane (two assists) being the headliners. Meanwhile, former Penguin Marian Hossa has quietly climbed to 25 goals on the season.

    Meanwhile, the Penguins limped through this one and have now lost four consecutive games.

    With this result, the Blackhawks look like close to a lock to win the Central Division title. Meanwhile, the Metro crown is virtually unthinkable for Pittsburgh, and the Penguins might also need to accept the likelihood that they may not enjoy home-ice advantage in the first round.

    They’d probably accept that more easily if they can get healthier and get back on track. Wednesday was a little worrisome in those regards.