BOSTON -- With an entire summer in front of them, the Bruins tied up one of their final semi-loose ends and announced a deal that's been in the works for quite a while. The Bruins signed alternate captain, and the team's longest tenured member, Patrice Bergeron to an eight-year deal worth $52 million.
The contract will take Bergeron through age 37, and essentially guarantees that the two-way center, Selke Trophy winner and Stanley Cup champion will get a chance to retire in Black and Gold. It's a rarity in this day and age of free agency, but both sides indicated that was a real desire in negotiations around the extension that will start with the 2014-15 season.
"This truly feels like home to me now after playing here since I was 18 years old," said Bergeron. "I love the fans, I love my teammates. So now I'm hopefully going to be able to stay here my entire career.
"There's a huge amount of pride I feel each and every time I put on that sweater. I feel very fortunate to get a chance to do it for a very long time."
The deal carries with it a $6.5 million cap hit for the life of the deal, and -- like Tuukka Rask -- designates Bergeron as one of the franchise players that Boston will build their franchise around for the next decade.
Bergeron was going to get rewarded for his devotion to the Boston franchise even before playing with a separated shoulder, torn rib cartilage, a broken rib and a punctured lung in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final. But that show of toughness, dedication to the team concept and competitiveness was a perfect example of the way Bergeron sets the tone with everything he does.
He isn't the loudest voice inside the dressing room and he isn't the biggest or baddest of this edition of the Bruins, but he is the team's heart and soul more than anybody else on the team.
Combine that with a player in his hockey prime that puts up 20 goals and 60 points a year while putting up Selke Trophy level defense, and is the best face-off guy in the entire NHL, and you start to get a picture of all that Bergeron brings to the table.
"Patrice is the kind of high character player that we feel comfortable making this kind of commitment to," said Peter Chiarelli. "Clearly there's some level of risk in a long term deal, but Bergie is one of those players that we call a 'pillar of the team.'
"Patrice is the kind of player that we point as an example of what we're looking for here. This is a deal that we're very happy to announce."
With Bergeron and Rask now locked up and Tyler Seguin dealt to the Dallas Stars, it would appear the Bruins and Chiarelli have checked off all the boxes on their offseason list. But it isn't lost on anyone that retaining their best all-around player and spiritual leader in the dressing right might turn out to be the best move of all.