Sidney Crosby and Mike Sullivan paid their public, virtual respects to retiring Boston Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron on Tuesday.
To: Patrice Bergeron— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) July 25, 2023
From: Coach Sullivan pic.twitter.com/1Og77lxSzQ
It seems like a lifetime ago that a young Mike Sullivan coached an even younger Bergeron in both of their first two seasons in respective roles of NHL head coach and NHL player way back in 2003-04 and 2005-06 in Boston.
In fact, Bergeron’s retirement means there are only two active players currently under NHL contract in 2023-24 that were also in the league in 2003-04 during the final season prior to the year-long lockout and institution of the salary cap. Can you name them? One is very easy. (Answer at end of this article..)
One of Bergeron’s contemporaries and often Team Canada linemate over the years in Sidney Crosby also weighed in and released some comments through the Penguins as well.
Bergy,— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) July 25, 2023
It’s been a pleasure to compete against you and a special honor to be your teammate over the years. Your achievements speak for themselves, but the person you are is what stands out the most. For anyone who has played with or against you, there isn’t a better example to… pic.twitter.com/x3V1F3vb2V
The full text in case twitter or X or whatever it’s called today gets wonky:
It’s been a pleasure to compete against you and a special honor to be your teammate over the years. Your achievements speak for themselves, but the person you are is what stands out the most. For anyone who has played with or against you, there isn’t a better example to follow. Congratulations on a remarkable career and enjoy the next chapter mon ami!
Frequently alongside Bruin and Nova Scotia native Brad Marchand, Crosby and Bergeron combined to produce a lot of magic for Team Canada at events like the 2010 and 2014 Olympic games and the 2016 World Cup of Hockey. Canada won gold in all three events. Bergeron and Crosby’s connection has gone on even longer than Crosby’s NHL career, with both being key members of the 2004-05 Canadian World Junior team.
remember the Marchand - Crosby - Bergeron line? pic.twitter.com/Q3grEXbFNs— Spoked Z (@SpokedZ) December 12, 2020
With a well-deserved reputation as the finest two-way forward of his generation — and possibly ever — Bergeron departs the game on his own terms and still near the height of his powers after his age-37 season. And also can stand to serve as a reminder of just how close the end could be for players like Crosby and Evgeni Malkin who aren’t much younger than Bergeron.
Trivia answer: Marc-Andre Fleury played 21 games for the Penguins in 2003-04. Brent Burns appeared in 36 games as a rookie for the Minnesota Wild to make up the only two players in the NHL that year that remain currently under contract for 2023-24. Eric Staal is not yet signed but not officially retired, and I think that takes care of it for players who at least played in the NHL in 2022-23.