Patrice Bergeron

How Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron decided it was right time to retire

Bergeron retired Tuesday after 19 seasons with the Bruins.

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BOSTON -- Deciding when to retire is often the most difficult decision a pro athlete makes.

It can be particularly tough to walk away from the sport you love when you're still an elite player.

Boston Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron is 38 years old and wrapped up his 19th NHL season just a few months ago. Bergeron remains one of the best players at his position, and he's grateful for the opportunity to retire on top of his game.

What exactly went into his decision to ultimately retire?

"I think it was a combination of things," Bergeron said Wednesday during his retirement press conference at TD Garden. "I don’t think I can say it was one thing or there was one particular time that made me really make that decision. I think it was more, over time I knew that, when I signed this past summer, I knew it was one year. I was leaning that it might be my last year, so the whole year was kind of preparing for that. And over time the body and realizing that it was just time for me to kind of move on. There’s a lot of things that kind of influenced me but the main thing is probably the body and spending more time with the family.

"I’ve always wanted and told myself that for me, I wanted to play the game at the highest level that I could, and felt like I wanted to kind of leave on top of my game, but also thinking about the future and knowing that I wanted to continue to, being able to spend time with family but also being active and doing other things and other endeavors that I’ve always wanted to but never really had the time to do."

Bergeron spoke to a lot of people about his retirement decision. They all gave him advice, and some opinions differed. But one common theme among the conversations Bergeron had was that he would know when it was the right time to walk away.

“I talked to a lot of guys over the course of the last year I guess, since last summer. A lot of great conversations, a lot of guys I respect a lot and a lot of different opinions and advice, so it was pretty special," Bergeron explained. "To me, the recurring theme was always that you’re going to know when it’s time. And it just felt like it was. I’m a very intuitive guy. I feel like I always listen to my instincts and my heart, and it just felt like it was time for me to move on. Unfortunately, I wish I could play forever and never have to do this, but as you know, eventually you have to move on, the body tells you something sometimes.

Bergeron had a feeling throughout the 2022-23 season that retirement this summer was a very real possibility.

"I had an idea most of the year that it was most likely, there were good chances in the last year, I wasn’t sharing public as you know, and I wasn’t sharing with many people, but some guys knew that were was a chance," Bergeron said. "I’ve always communicated with management, with Cam (Neely) and Sweens (Don Sweeney) a lot about it, so they knew even at exit meetings that it was a possibility. But then I didn’t want to obviously close the door completely because I wanted to make sure I was going to let the dust settle, and really think about.

"It’s a big decision and I didn't want to make the wrong one. I wanted to make sure it was the right decision for myself and my family, so it took a lot of time and I put a lot of thought into it, but at the end of the day I feel like it’s the right decision for myself. I’m excited for what’s to come, but obviously as I said, it’s mixed feelings to be here, sitting here right now. Part of me is as I said, grateful and sad to leave something so special, but also excited to open the next chapter."

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