Patrice Bergeron was just 22 years old when a serious concussion jeopardized his career.
Now, less than two weeks before his 28th birthday, one of the NHL’s best two-way forwards is under contract for the next nine seasons and hopes to retire with the only team he’s played for, the Boston Bruins.
Bergeron signed an eight-year, $52 million extension Friday that starts once his current three-year, $15 million deal expires after next season.
“We don’t want to go anywhere else and so it was an easy decision for me and my family,” the Bruins alternate captain said.
Bergeron’s extension came two days after the Bruins re-signed goalie Tuukka Rask, a restricted free agent, to another eight-year contract. It’s worth $56 million even though he just completed his first full season as the team’s No. 1 goalie.
General manager Peter Chiarelli was eager to keep two core players who were instrumental in Boston’s run to the Stanley Cup finals.
“We want to try and get these guys locked up,” he said, “the pillars of the team.”
Bergeron learned early how a promising career can be put in peril.
He was off to a strong start in 2007-08 with three goals and four assists in 10 games. But he didn’t play again that season after sustaining a grade-three concussion and a broken nose when he was checked into the end-boards.
Now he has one Stanley Cup championship, in 2011, and one bid that fell just two wins short when the Chicago Blackhawks clinched the title in six games on June 24.
The prospect of contending for another Cup was “a huge factor” in his decision to stay in Boston.
“You want to keep doing it, keep reliving the moment, the way that we felt in 2011 after winning the Cup. Those are the memories that you never forget,” Bergeron said.
SENATORS: Re-signed Erik Condra to a two-year deal, avoiding arbitration with the restricted free-agent forward.
Condra’s deal is worth $2.5 million, and he’ll count $1.25 million against Ottawa’s salary cap.
Condra played all 48 games last year for the Senators, providing some consistency during an injury-plagued season. He had four goals and eight assists.
The 22-year-old had a goal and six assists in 10 playoff games. He had eight goals and 17 assists in his first full NHL season in 2011-12.
Condra had filed for player-elected salary arbitration before Wednesday’s deadline. The sides settled on the contract before a hearing was necessary.