BOSTON — No one knows whether Patrice Bergeron will be back with the Boston Bruins for another year.

But if Bergeron does decide to hand over his No. 37 to equipment manager Keith Robinson for its inevitable ascension to the TD Garden rafters, there should be little doubt about which player should be getting the ‘C’ that’s been affixed to that jersey the last few of years.

As he’s matured and grown from being a player who wrestled with — and often lost to — his emotions on the ice, Brad Marchand has grown into an insightful voice in the dressing room who is as good as anyone in articulating the state of the team.

And the competitiveness that has always been the hallmark of his game was plainly evident in the playoffs. He was able to elevate his game from the regular season – when he battled inconsistency following double hip surgery – to record 10 points in the seven-game loss to the Panthers. When Bergeron and David Krejci were out, Marchand was the tone-setter for the team that built a 3-1 series lead.

If sports were fair, his electric rush up the ice in the waning seconds of regulation of Game 5 would have ended with the puck landing in the back of the net. But it didn’t, and we know the rest of the story.

In the immediate aftermath of the Game 7 defeat, Marchand beat himself up over the fact that he did not cash in on that opportunity – a little unnecessarily, to these eyes, considering how much the expiring clock restricted his options. But a couple of days later, Marchand did offer his post-mortem of the series with a little more perspective.


Marchand is not one for sugar-coating things, and he did on one occasion use the F word – failure. But as he grappled with where and how things went off the rails, Marchand stressed that it would be a mistake to simply flush this 65-win season.

“We tried to avoid the pressure of the regular season (success) affecting the playoffs,” Marchand said. “Maybe we overthought that and misread how that would affect our group. We tried to get ahead of it. But there’s got to be another way to embrace it and use it to your advantage. I’m not sure just what that is yet but we still built something really special in this room and that will carry over to next year. The relationships on ice and off ice will allow lines to thrive next and power-play groups, penalty-kill groups, the system that’s been implemented, all of that will helps us be a good team next year. If we just write this one off and say that it was a waste of a year (because) we didn’t accomplish what we set out to or expected to, I think that would be wrong.”

With the possible departures of Bergeron and Krejci and the salary cap crunch coming that will make it difficult to sign unrestricted free agents Dmitry Orlov, Tyler Bertuzzi, Garnet Hathaway, Connor Clifton, Nick Foligno and Tomas Nosek, it may be hard to see next season being any kind of continuation of this one. But last September, no one saw this team winning 65 games, either.

“The salary cap may be an issue for a year, but then the cap’s going to go through the roof over the next couple of years,” Marchand said. “Whatever happens with Bergy and Krech – if they come back next year it’ll look very similar, minus a couple of guys, and be very competitive – and if not, you’ve got to look at what (Pavel Zacha and Charlie Coyle) could do in Games 3 and 4 and the way our team looked.

“So I assume we’ll be a very competitive group. And with anyone moving on, it brings opportunity for other guys to step up. I don’t think anyone expected Zacha to have the year he did and the depth he adds to the group. He was like another Bergy out there. Someone else will do that if given the opportunity. That’s how people find jobs and start careers. People move on and opportunities open up and you seize the moment. That’s going to happen again. The organization and team management, ownership, they want to win. They push that and make sure that’s (the goal) every year. So no matter who’s in or out, they’re going to do whatever they can to make sure this team can win.”

No matter who is back next year or who isn’t, Marchand hopes the pain that everyone is feeling now can be the same fuel that was used by the organization over a decade ago when they blew a 3-0 series lead to the Flyers in 2010.

“Obviously, it’s not the way that we would’ve liked to end the season, but I think the worst thing that we could do is not try to learn from it and not try to take out what we can from this year, and from our experiences and our failures.

“The year we won in ’11, the year before that, the (we) were up in the series, up in Game 7, and (we) learned from that. The next year (we) went out, and it made (us) stronger, and (we) achieved it the next year. So it’s something that we can learn from and build upon, you know we won’t be the first to say that we expected a lot more out of this run. We expected to be playing into June, but that’s not how it was meant to be.”

You can agree or disagree with Marchand’s assessment. But it is what a future captain would and should say.

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