- James Murphy, Bruins reporter, ESPNBoston.com
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BOSTON -- Chances are, Patrice Bergeron and his teammates are trying to enjoy some down time and catch up on sleep after the Bruins' glorious two-month Stanley Cup run and whirlwind celebration in the days following, including the largest duck boat parade ever in Boston and a party at Foxwoods Casino that resulted in a bar tab upward of $156,000.
"I think we all need some rest," Bergeron told the media Sunday after returning to TD Garden from Fenway Park, where the team had been celebrated once again. "We all need to, I guess, regroup. It's been a grind, you know. I wouldn't change it for anything, obviously, to get the trophy, but it's been hard."
Bergeron said he's still in awe of the victory parade and the way the city embraced him and his teammates after they brought home the team's first Stanley Cup since 1972 and sixth in franchise history. He also is happy to have provided that experience for Bruins fans.
"Everywhere I go, people stop and shake hands and then they're actually saying thank you, and I don't know why because this is for them, too," Bergeron said of Bruins fans. "They're part of it, and we're very happy for them and Boston."
It has been almost a week since he passed the Stanley Cup over to Tim Thomas during the on-ice celebration after the Bruins beat the Canucks 4-0 in Game 7, and Bergeron will always remember that glorious moment.
"To be honest with you, I never exactly pictured how it was going to be, but I always dreamed of winning it and I can't believe it's actually happened," Bergeron said. "I've always believed, but, that being said, it always seemed so far.
"It was an amazing feeling on the ice, the last seconds, you know, having a chance to go skate to Timmy [Thomas] and all that," he added.
Bergeron doesn't yet have a game plan for how he will spend his day with the Stanley Cup, but one thing is certain: He won't be taking it to Montreal to rub it into Canadiens fans and the team he grew up cheering against as a Nordiques fan and helped beat in a dramatic seven-game series in the first round.
"I won't bring it to Montreal; it's going to come back safe, for sure, back home to Quebec City," Bergeron said when asked whether he had thought of stopping in Montreal with the Cup. "I'm just going to share it, and I'll share it with my family and friends, but I'm not sure exactly what I'll do all day. I've thought about a couple of things but it's still something I need to think about and it's going to be a special day, that's for sure."
Bergeron, who is just 25, has already played seven seasons in the NHL and realizes how lucky he is to have experienced so much at such a young age. Many players go a whole career without winning the Cup, and Bergeron appreciates that he won't have to look back and say, "What if?"
"Very lucky. I feel blessed, and, you know, that's what you fight for your whole career and being able to do it so early, it's special," Bergeron said. "But that being said, once you taste it, you want more. I'll enjoy this one right now, but this summer I have to regroup and get back and get ready for next season."
When he does return next season, he will do so without a teammate who has become a good friend and was a mentor to him: Mark Recchi, who retired after the Bruins helped him win his third Stanley Cup.
"It's going to be really hard," Bergeron said of seeing his linemate, mentor and friend go.
"I wish him all the best because it was a pleasure playing with him," he said. "I've learned a lot from him, but we'll keep in touch and I'll see him around. I think I am a better leader and person because of him and better player. He helped me with a lot of things."
Reached by email Tuesday, Recchi expressed the same sentiments for Bergeron and said he believes Bergeron is ready to take his place as a leader on the Bruins despite being only 25.
"Bergy is a complete leader," Recchi said. "He knows and understands when to step up and how to handle things. His professionalism is incredible. How he prepares and takes care of himself even at his young age, he is ready to help younger players coming onto the team. He is an amazing example for [Tyler] Seguin and other young players coming into the organization."
Bergeron said he is "ready to lead" and thrilled to have the opportunity to possibly take this young core of Bruins back to the promised land.
"We won the Cup, but once you taste it, you want more," Bergeron said. "It's been a great feeling after winning it. In the room, on the plane or even on the ice, you want to do that again, and it's amazing, almost surreal. It's almost the same team next year, and the future looks very bright."
At this time last summer, Bergeron and his agent were preparing to enter contract talks to lock up an extension before he was to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. Bergeron and the Bruins ended up agreeing on a three-year deal this past October in Prague that will pay him $5 million per season, and Bergeron said he has no regrets on passing up on free agency.
"I'm very happy still and even more obviously after winning the Cup, but I always wanted to stay in Boston," Bergeron said. "I believed then that it was coming and I was right. So I made a good decision and I'm very happy I'm not going into free agency."
So are the Bruins and their fans.
James Murphy covers the Bruins for ESPNBoston.com. Ask a question for his next Bruins mailbag here.