Boston Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron is not only known as one of the best two-way forwards to ever play the game, he’s also recognized as one of the best people in the NHL today.
Bergeron reminded everyone why that is during the Bruins’ game against the Buffalo Sabres at KeyBank Center on Saturday. As he prepared to line up for a faceoff versus young Sabres star Tage Thompson, the 37-year-old tapped Thompson on the shins and seemed to give him some words of encouragement.
Following Boston’s 3-1 win on Hockey Fights Cancer night in Buffalo, Bergeron told Boston Hockey Now that he was asking Thompson about his wife Rachel’s recovery from bone cancer.
“His wife was diagnosed with cancer a couple of years ago and I think she was cancer-free now. So I was just saying that I was thinking of her and happy for them,” Bergeron said. “I wasn’t sure that she was cancer-free, and he said that [to me that she was cancer-free] so I was super happy for him, for her and for their family. It was cool.”
In 2019, Rachel Thompson was diagnosed with chondrosarcoma, a type of bone cancer. She underwent surgery almost immediately to remove a cancerous mass in her right leg. Following successful surgery, every scan has come back cancer-free, and her next scan in summer 2023 will determine whether further monitoring will even be necessary.
The Sabres centre expressed praise and appreciation for Bergeron following practice on Monday.
“It’s big,” Thompson told The Buffalo News. “Obviously, he didn’t have to say anything. He kind of went out of his way to check on her and ask how she’s doing. It’s just the kind of guy he is. He’s just a genuine guy, cares about other people.”
Thompson’s relationship with Bergeron goes beyond a quick exchange at center-ice of an NHL rink. As an up-and-coming prospect, Bergeron shared a locker room with Thompson’s father, Brent, as members of the 2004-05 Providence Bruins in the AHL. The veteran forward remembers seeing Tage and younger brother Tyce hanging around the rink as children in their father’s final season in pro hockey.
“He and his brother were playing knee-hockey in Providence all year, so I have great memories. He’s a monster now and he was like ‘this’ high back then,” Bergeron said, while pointing to his waist . “He must have been six or seven back when I was playing [with his dad] and now playing against him is kind of full circle.”
As the end of Bergeron’s legendary career nears, stories like this will surely continue to pour out as hockey appreciates the final playing days of an all-time great player — and person.
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