BOSTON -- Patrice Bergeron is not your old-school, big, bad Bruin. He's a modern-day Bruin, and there aren't too many players like him.
Since he arrived on the scene as an 18-year-old rookie, preparing for his first NHL training camp prior to the 2003-04 season, it seemed Bergeron was destined to be a Bruin, and he's been fulfilling that prophecy ever since.
It's almost unbelievable that he's only 25 years old.
What's almost as shocking is that Bergeron notched his first NHL hat trick Tuesday night to help the Bruins to a 6-0 victory over the Ottawa Senators at TD Garden. When asked about his performance, Bergeron flashed a big smile, but he was quick to place the emphasis on the team's victory instead of his personal achievements.
"To be honest, I never really thought about it," Bergeron said of the fact that it took 418 games to get his first three-goal game. "I don't really stop to think about those individual goals, but it's always nice to have it out of the way."
Known for his smart and relentless style of play, Bergeron has been at the top of his game this season, especially of late. He has eight points in the past four games and 17 points in his past 13 games. He has produced three consecutive multipoint games and has a total of nine this season.
Predictably, Bergeron credited his linemates and the team's successful forecheck as the keys to his recent surge in production. But his teammates are quick to send praise Bergeron's way.
"He is such an amazing player," linemate Brad Marchand said. "I figured he would have five or six [hat tricks] right now. That's how it goes sometimes. You have to get some lucky breaks. It is great that he got one."
While Marchand has been a teammate of Bergeron's for only the past two seasons, goaltender Tim Thomas has been with Bergeron since the beginning. Both have become important cogs in the Bruins' organization. When asked to describe the type of Bruin Bergeron is, Thomas was at a loss for words.
"I can't answer that, to be honest with you," Thomas said. "It seems like a softball question. I know, but I can't put it into words."
Thomas took a few minutes to think about it, then pointed to the numerous plaques of former players hanging above the locker stalls in the team's dressing room.
"Out of all these guys on the wall, can you think of one of them who is like Bergy? That played the same kind of role?" Thomas said. "The Selke-type guy?"
Bruins legend, Hall of Famer and current team president Cam Neely said recently that Bergeron should be considered for the Frank J. Selke Trophy, which is given annually to a forward who demonstrates defensive prowess.
Since the award's inception in 1977-78, Steve Kasper (1981-82) is the only Bruins player to win it.
"It's always nice to hear that from a guy like Cam, but I need to keep playing well and see what happens," Bergeron said. "But, to be honest, I don't worry about that stuff."
Bergeron does take a lot of pride in playing well and making major contributions in all three zones.
Thomas didn't realize it was Bergeron's first career hat trick but took the opportunity to reflect on his longtime teammate's career. No two Bruins have been together longer than Bergeron and Thomas.
"It's nice to see him rewarded for all the hard work, and I'm talking about the early days," Thomas said. "I was with Bergy during his first training camp, and to see how far he's come, through the setbacks and the triumphs. Every time when you see something like this with him, with a guy you've played with that much, it's something special. It's great."
It's about time for something special and great for the Bruins.
Prior to Chara's arrival in Boston via free agency before the 2006-07 season, Joe Thornton was the Bruins' captain. Thornton was traded on Nov. 30, 2005, to the San Jose Sharks, and the Bruins went without a captain for the remainder of the season.
That the captaincy of an Original Six club was vacant was a major attraction for Chara, and before he signed with the Bruins, his agent made it known to the organization. So, in order to secure Chara, Boston named him captain even before he played a game for the Black and Gold.
At the time, Bergeron was only 20 but already showing leadership qualities on and off the ice. He already had played 152 games for the Bruins (it would have been more if not for the lockout during the 2004-05 season) and was given the assistant captain's "A" that season.
He would never say it, but Bergeron deserves to be a captain.
It's time to have co-captains in Boston again.
Bergeron has been with the Bruins since the organization selected him in the second round (45th overall) in the 2003 draft. He has re-signed with the Bruins twice since then, most recently at the start of this season, agreeing to a deal that will keep him in a Bruins sweater through the 2013-14 season.
Bergeron is a true Bruin. He's proud of it, and it shows every time he takes the ice or represents the organization off the ice.
"It means a lot," Bergeron said. "There's so much history behind the Bruins. It's always great to see [Johnny Bucyk] and Cam [Neely] walking around the dressing room and having a chance to really know what it means to be a Bruin. I take a lot of pride in it. It's a lot of fun, and I'm very happy to be in Boston."
Joe McDonald covers the Bruins for ESPNBoston.com.