May 7, 2011

Mild concussion for Bergeron a major blow for Bruins

by Jesse Connolly

Bruins center Patrice Bergeron's last concussion came back in Dec. of 2008. (Getty)

WILMINGTON -- While the Hub of Hockey awoke in high-spirits after the Bruins punched their ticket to the Eastern Conference finals last night, general manager Peter Chiarelli rained on their parade with a dejecting update on the status of Patrice Bergeron.

Boston's center suffered the third concussion of his NHL career on Friday night, leaving the ice on his own power after taking a hit from Flyers forward Claude Giroux in the opening minutes of the third period.

"Patrice suffered a mild concussion last evening," Chiarelli said. "He went to the quiet room after being hit and was assessed by our doctors. He was deemed unable to return. What I'm told is that the concussion is mild. I have not heard about him today. I think he was still sleeping earlier this morning, so that's where that stands."

Bergeron missed nearly the entirety of the 2007-08 season after suffering a serious concussion on a hit from behind by Flyers defenseman Randy Jones. His second came in December of 2008 in a center-ice collision with Dennis Seidenberg, then a member of the Hurricanes.

"When I spoke with him after the game he was a little despondent having suffered another concussion," said Chiarelli. "He was just okay."

The GM did his best to mask the fact that he took umbrage with the tardiness of the hit on his team's leading point-getter in the postseason, but doesn't expect the NHL to reprimand Giroux for the incident.

"I thought it was a shade late, but it's in that area where when it's at full-speed it's tough to tell," said Chiarelli. "I did have a brief discussion with the league on it. It was a tough one to gage, especially at this level of competition. I'll leave it at that."

The Bruins will keep a close eye on the ailing center, who will have to remain symptom-free before given the go-ahead to test if he's ready to return to action.

"Well there's the normal stuff you monitor day-to-day," said Chiarelli. "You see when the symptoms are and you see when he's symptom-free. He'll have to go through the exertion test and the SCAT test again."

Asked if he assumed this meant the team would begin their conference finals series with the Lightning sans No. 37, Chiarelli reluctantly concurred.

"That's a fair assumption of an assumption," the GM said. "But anything could happen."

For now, the plan is to replace Bergeron with rookie Tyler Seguin, who has been a healthy scratch through the team's first 11 postseason tilts.

"It's a discussion we've had with the coaching staff and within our group, and we'll have it again over the weekend," said Chiarelli. "We feel he deserves a chance and he's been working hard in practice. We'll see where he fits into the lineup, but that's a pretty safe assumption."