June 26, 2013

NHL: Bruins' Bergeron punctured lung

BOSTON (AP) -- Patrice Bergeron has a punctured lung and is at a Boston-area hospital for observation.

The Bruins forward was admitted Monday night, after Boston lost to Chicago, 3-2, in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final at TD Garden -- a defeat which ended the season.

Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli and coach Claude Julien addressed Bergeron's status Wednesday, the same day they held exit interviews with the players.

"He played through all of this, and he was a warrior," Chiarelli said. "I can't say enough about his performance and what he did while being injured."

Bergeron was already slowed by injuries headed into Game 6. He was a question mark to even play due to a broken rib and torn cartilage. After not participating in the morning skate Monday, he appeared during warmups and played in the loss. In the first period, though, he suffered a separated shoulder.

"After the game, obviously, he was in pain from his ribs and stuff like that, which is an automatic thing. The doctors said let's send him to the hospital for observation, so he went there," Julien said. "I think they did the right thing and the right job by sending him there.

"And then he just stayed."

Bergeron had 10 goals and 32 points in the shortened regular season, as well as nine and 15, respectively, in the postseason. Combined, he had a plus-26 rating this year as the Bruins won the Northeast Division, and defeated the Maple Leafs, Rangers and Penguins to secure a second Eastern Conference title in three seasons.

"It was a challenge," Julien said. "I think the biggest one, as we mentioned there, we had some guys, some key guys, that were injured along the way, and on a lot of occasions, we weren't able to finish with the same number we started."

And so an offseason of question marks is off and running in Boston, as the Bruins look to keep their solid nucleus in town while also plot for the future.

Forward Nathan Horton will become a free agent next month, and in a class that's regarded as weak and doesn't feature a lot of star power, he is easily one of the most marketable, skilled players available.

"I have enjoyed my time here obviously. Two out of three years, I've been here we've been in the Stanley Cup and we've won one time and I said a million times, the guys in the room are amazing," Horton said. "It's been a lot of fun and I really enjoy everyone and every player on the team."

One potential drawback to Horton, is he will require offseason shoulder surgery.

"When you make a decision to try and bring back guys that are on the eve of free agency, you'd like to think that you can make the right decision before the last possible moment. Usually, that's what I try and do," Chiarelli said. "I try to be proactive and try to get ahead of stuff, and this year it was too hard. Specifically on Nathan, I put him in with the rest of the group. They've been moving targets and I'm going to try to push through it now.

"It's not the ideal way, but I'm going to try to push through it now."

One part of the team that became even stronger in the postseason was defensive depth. With injuries to several defensemen, Chiarelli was able to flex some organizational numbers on the blue line that will allow the Bruins to let some higher-priced, older players walk away.

Defenseman Andrew Ference, for instance, will not be re-signed, and his place will likely be filled by Dougie Hamilton, Matt Bartkowski and Torey Krug, who all played in the playoffs.

(Continued on page 2)

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