Goodbyes are never easy, but there are better and worse. Two legendary Canadian ice hockey players, representatives of an entire generation, have said goodbye after illustrious careers, both with one team, but the au revoir could not have been more different. Patrice Bergeron has done it as a hero of the city of Boston, while Jonathan Toews has been expelled from Chicago after 16 years and three Stanley Cups with the Blackhawks. One is sweet, the other bitter.
Quebecois Patrice Bergeron nearly had his career cut short in 2007, when a brutal hit by Randy Jones of the Philadelphia Flyers left him lying on the ice at the Boston Garden with a broken nose and a concussion that forced him to be transferred to the ambulance hospital. At times he feared the worst. It was November and the L'Ancienne Lorette native missed the rest of a season that had just begun, but the following year he returned in top form, and he would still play 15 more years with the Bruins, eventually becoming their captain. In 2011 he lifted his only Stanley Cup, scoring two decisive goals in the seventh and final game of the final series in Vancouver, against the Canucks. He received the Selke trophy for most outstanding forward in defensive duties six times.
The number 37 has said goodbye at the age of 38 with the discretion that has always characterized him, after having scored 427 goals and provided 613 assists, and a guaranteed place in the Hall of Fame along with other illustrious Quebecois such as Jean Béliveau and Jean Ratelle. Of his two decades on the ice, the only year he didn't wear a Bruins jersey was during an NHL strike in 2012, which he took advantage of to play in Lugano, Switzerland. With Canada, he was a two-time Olympic and one-time world champion.
His career has many parallels with that of Jonathan Toews, 35, 16 seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks, with 372 goals and 511 assists. Player of extraordinary physical strength, a wall in defense and a dancer in attack, tireless, arrogant, defiant, who did not stop giving instructions to his teammates, scolding his opponents and complaining to the referees, in the 2020-21 season he lost suddenly all the energy, like Samson when Delilah cut his hair. His particular Dalila was a disease diagnosed at the time as chronic immune response syndrome, but there are doubts as to whether it was not a long-term covid (he caught the disease very early in the pandemic, before much was known about it). she).
The Winnipeg native eventually returned to the pitch, but as a shadow of his former self, although last season he scored 15 goals and 16 assists in 53 games, a respectable record. But, despite his loyalty to the Blackhawks (1,204 games) and the respect he commands in the league, the club has announced that it is dispensing with his services to make a clean slate, after being graced by the gods with the first selection in the last draft, and take advantage of it to hire Connor Bedard, the great promise of ice hockey, for some a future Wayne Gretzky or Mark Messier.
The great captain of Chicago has not officially said that he is retiring, but that he is going to take at least some time off. If he returns, he will be in a limited role, as a specialist in f and power plays (when a team has numerical superiority). One day, his number 19 will be retired and he will have a bronze statue in the United Center. But so far his farewell has been very sad.