It might be hard for some people to believe, but Boston Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron is about to enter his 18th NHL season.
He was a second-round pick of the B's in a loaded 2003 draft and immediately made the team as an 18-year-old. Fast forward nearly two decades later and Bergeron is one of the franchise's greatest players and should be a Hall of Famer at some point after he retires.
Bergeron is still one of the league's top forwards, but given his long playing career and other factors, it's fair to wonder how many more seasons he will play.
The 36-year-old center has only one more year left on his contract -- an eight-year, $52 million deal signed in the summer of 2013. He's obviously aware of the situation, but when asked about it Wednesday, the veteran forward said his focus is squarely on team objectives.
“That’s something that a lot of people have asked me this summer," Bergeron told reporters. "I think for me, the way that I approach this year is I want to concentrate on this year. I have a year left on my contract. I think that it would be useless for me to think about the future.
“I want to create something special. We obviously want to work towards winning a Stanley Cup. I know everyone says that, but it’s definitely our goal as a team, and I think (we're always trying) to be in that group of teams. So that’s where my focus is right now.”
When asked about the possibility of a signing a new contract during the season, Bergeron said "I’m going to play out this year and talk about that after.”
These comments from Bergeron aren't surprising. Players at his age typically take things a year at a time. You never know how you'll feel at the end of a season, both physically and mentally.
Bruins training camp begins later this month. The B's start their preseason schedule Sunday, Sept. 26 against the Capitals in Washington.