When Patrice Bergeron spoke to the dressing room prior to Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final on Sunday, the Boston Bruins listened.
It’s not that they wouldn’t have on any other occasion. Bergeron might as well be a god among men in that room for what he’s been through in his career and what he’s achieved.
And the Bruins hung on every word.
“He’s a legend,” Jake DeBrusk said. “I mean, he said some words that, I don’t know if he wants me to necessarily repeat them. They weren’t bad words. I mean, it was just what we all dream about doing. We’re here for a reason and everyone who plays hockey grows up and dreams of playing in this moment, and it was pretty much something around those lines.
“To see him kind of set the tone that way made us want to run through a wall.”
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Bergeron is one of four Bruins still on the team that hoisted the Stanley Cup in 2011.
When the Bruins lost the Cup to the Chicago Blackhawks in 2013, Bergeron played with a broken rib, torn cartilage and a separated shoulder. There’s also his nasty history with concussions. But the point is Bergeron knows what it takes, not only to reach the stage where his team was at against the St. Louis Blues prior to puck drop, but to turn a 3-2 series deficit in the Cup final into a 4-3 win, like they did in 2011.
“It was exactly what we needed,” Charlie McAvoy said. “It was. It was an element of what the dream is. Growing up, every one of us shares the same dream and kind of just bringing us all to a point where we can all be on the same field. We were all a little kid once and we all wanted this bad. And I think it was just an element of savoring this moment and not letting it end tonight. It was exactly what we needed. He stepped up.
“When he talks, you listen.”
And the Bruins did, engineering a 5-1 win to force Game 7 at TD Garden on Wednesday.
Bergeron, who’s an assistant captain for the Bruins, said after the game that he often riles the troops.
“It’s part of my role,” the 33-year-old said.
The message, in his words?
“We are in a situation that is everyone’s childhood’s dream here and we must realize it,” Bergeron said.
Of course, Bergeron and his line walked the walk in the game as well, with Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak each potting a goal and adding a helper.
The value of Bergeron’s speech for Bruce Cassidy was explained in one word.
“Tremendous,” Cassidy said. “I believe those veteran guys come in handy before the game. They’ll come in handy tomorrow and Tuesday for us. We’re going to have to live a bit what St. Louis did today and have to deal with now you’re going home, the Stanley Cup’s in the building, someone’s winning it. You’ve got a lot of new friends all the sudden or old ones are coming out of the woodwork. I think the message, they’ve been good at that: stay in your bubble. Take care of your immediate family but catch up with your friends on Thursday type of thing. And I’m not trying to be disrespectful but you really got to be dialed in.
“I don’t know if St. Louis dealt with that or not. I’m just saying there is a danger there and I think that’s what [Bergeron, Zdeno Chara and David Krejci], these guys have been there and are able to get that message out. Once the puck drops, they’re valuable for us, but I think players just have to play then. The debate was how much does experience matter. St. Louis had what, one guy, Perron, and here they are. So I do believe that once the puck drops, you play. You execute or you don’t. You get a save. But those veteran guys can sure help you in the moments where you have a little bit of free time and maybe you think too much and you get in your way. I believe [Bergeron, Chara, Krejci and Marchand] have done a good job.”
Blues-Bruins Game 7 is Wednesday night at 8 p.m. ET on NBC and the NBC Sports app.
Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck