Brad Marchand shakes his head in bewilderment when asked about the trials and tribulations
his Boston Bruins teammate and linemate, Patrice Bergeron, endured in the Stanley Cup finals last June.
Bergeron was in pain that night, 77 days ago, and Marchand picked up on his fallen teammate's misery while the two sat next to each other on the bench.
But neither Bergeron nor Marchand knew what the rest of us would find out 24 hours later, that to go along with the separated shoulder, the broken rib, the torn rib cartilage, Bergeron also had suffered a punctured lung
"I remember being on the bench a few times in that game and being worried about him," Marchand recalled. "I told him 'Bergy, you have to go. You can't stay out here with the amount of pain you're in.'
"I was worried about his health. He was in so much pain. To see a guy like him to stay out there for the team and battle through that pain was amazing. It shows his character. It's why he's such a good player, a leader and such an elite athlete. He'll do anything for the team."
So why didn't Bergeron bolt for the friendlier confines of the dressing room? Why didn't he get some immediate assistance? He stayed because he wanted to win. Unfortunately for Bergeron and the Bruins, they suffered a late-game collapse that saw the Chicago Blackhawks score twice in the final 86 seconds.
Bergeron, who played 17 minutes, 45 seconds in the game, helplessly watched from the bench as Chicago's Bryan Bickell scored the tying goal with 1:16 remaining and 17 seconds later David Bolland banged in the Stanley Cup-clincher
Bruins head coach Claude Julien sent Bergeron over the boards for the final 36 seconds, but there would be no late-game heroics on this strange evening.
"During the game I felt short of breath," Bergeron said. "I didn't know something was not right, but I had no energy and I was wondering what was going on. After the game I obviously was disappointed. I had the issue with my shoulder. With my chest, I just kept feeling that my chest was closing in on me and that something was not right.
"After the game, the doctors had the presence of mind to send me to the hospital to have some x-rays taken and to make sure everything was fine. That's when they realized my lung had collapsed."
Three days later, Bergeron was released from hospital. There was rehab on his shoulder, but he was too sore to engage in any serious training for four weeks. He had to limit his deep breaths.
Does Bergeron regret his decision to continue playing that night despite the agony he was in?
"Honestly, I've never thought twice about it," Bergeron said. "I wanted to be part of that game. I didn't know it was that bad. But I wanted to play. I wanted to help my teammates. I have no regrets nor have I second guessed staying and playing.
"But I guess I had my share of injuries in that series."
Bergeron, 28, began working out with intensity back home in Quebec City in early August. He also has slowly picked up the pace on his skating, too. He even joined his Boston teammates for the first time for informal skates over the weekend.
He still needs to be examined by the team's medical staff, but he expects to be ready for training camp later this week and Bergeron also remarked that he will be 100 per cent ready to go for the Bruins' season opener on Oct. 3 at home against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
After coming up two victories shy of his second Stanley Cup championship, the guy who already has tasted victory at the 2004 world championship, 2005 world juniors, 2010 Olympics, 2010-11 Stanley Cup and 2012 Spengler Cup, his hunger only has escalated after all the agony he suffered last year.
But will Bergeron, who still feels tender on his left side, have a mental hurdle to overcome after the anguish he suffered last spring? He did, after all, experience a similar situation earlier in his career when twice he returned from time off because of concussions.
"No, I feel confident. I just needed time to heal and feel normal again," he said. "When you go through the entire playoffs and fall short, you're disappointed, but you want to get back at it and do it. You want to win again. We did it in 2011 and it was such an amazing feeling."
Back to accessibility links