By Allan Muir
As expected, the Boston Bruins opened the vault for the second time this week, filling the pockets of Patrice Bergeron to the tune of $52 million over eight years.
That's only slightly less than the $56 million the team committed to goaltender Tuukka Rask on Wednesday, but don't expect to hear any of the same moaning from Bruins fans over the term or the $6.5 million cap hit being soaked up by Bergeron. Already a popular figure in Boston, the Selke Trophy-nominated center ascended to legend after he suited up for Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final with a cracked rib and torn cartilage, and continued to play after sustaining a separated shoulder and a punctured lung during the contest. He ended up hospitalized for observation.
Bergeron’s extension will be effective in 2014-15. This season will be the last on his current three-year, $15 million contract.
Even with the raise, an argument can be made that he's a bargain by today's standards. Bergeron has established himself not just as the heart and soul of the Bruins, but as one of the game's elite two-way centers. He was the runner-up to Jonathan Toews for the Selke as the NHL’s best defensive forward in 2013, after capturing the award in 2012. He won a league-best 62.1 percent of his face-offs this season and excelled in every situation in which he was used. Despite a crowd of talent at the position, Bergeron is a mortal lock to be one of Canada's four centers if NHLers take part in the 2014 Olympic Games.