Patrice Bergeron, drafted 45th overall by the Boston Bruins this June, came into Boston’s 2003 rookie training camp hoping to just have a solid go of things, and maybe make it out of rookie camp and into camp with the veterans. The forward accomplished all that and more, impressing his teammates and management alike who were witness to his skill with and without the puck, as well as his extraordinary hockey sense throughout training camp and the preseason. He earned himself a rookie contract, and a spot in the Bruins opening night line-up.
Born in Ancienne-Lorette, Quebec, a town on the outskirts of Quebec City, Patrice grew up idolizing the Quebec Nordiques and Joe Sakic. He’s a self-proclaimed playmaker, has a nifty wrist shot that has surprised opposing goaltenders, much like his idol Sakic. His ability to set up goals, or pot a few of his own has placed him among the early top contenders for Rookie of the Year. Bergeron is the youngest NHLer to suit up this season, but don’t let his age fool you. He’s quite mature for an 18-year-old, and possesses a deep intensity, reminiscent of another former Acadie-Bathurst Titan and Boston Bruin, defenseman Jonathan Girard.
He arrived in Wilmington, Massachusetts for rookie camp after spending the summer working with a power skating instructor to improve his skating, which he felt needed work. He’s also not like many rookies, in that he knows what the inside of the weight room looks like and what constitutes healthy eating. Complementing the physical workouts he’s done on his own, fellow Quebec native, Martin Lapointe, has taken Bergeron under his wing, mentoring him on the ice, and opening up his home to the youngster off the ice.
Bergeron stands 6’1”, and weighs in at 186 pounds. He is deceptively strong on his skates, and doesn’t shy away from the dirty work necessary when mucking for the puck along the boards. A natural center, Bergeron has found himself a home on Boston’s third line playing right wing alongside speedy forwards Brian Rolston and PJ Axelsson. He does get the opportunity to play in his normal position while centering the second power-play unit, involving Sergei Samsonov in some pretty give-and-go’s while Martin Lapointe takes abuse in front of the opponents’ net. Bergeron has a knack for knowing when to pass the puck, or when to hang onto it, or better yet, when to head for the net to knock in a rebound. As of this writing, he is tied for the league lead in rookie scoring (4 goals, 5 assists in 13 games, and +5).
Only a month has passed in the Boston Bruins 2003-04 campaign, but it appears that Patrice Bergeron’s initial impact for the B’s has caused ripples throughout the league, making other teams take notice. Most everyone thought he would be at the forefront of the QMJHL, but instead, he’s at the head of the class of this season’s crop of NHL rookies.