Patrice Bergeron remained undecided about his hockey future after the Bruins were eliminated from the playoffs

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“Right now it’s too early.”

Patrice Bergeron may have played his last game with the Bruins on Saturday. Jared C Tilton/Getty Images

Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron wasn’t ready to talk about his future in the moments following the Bruins’ Game 7 loss to the Hurricanes, which ended their season.

“No, it’s still too early. Not after – it’s too fresh at the moment,” Bergeron said when asked if he’d made up his mind to return next season. “It still stands out from a hard-fought series and we fell short. Of course I have to think about it, but I’m not there right now.”

Bergeron, who turns 37 in July, is in his final year of contract. But rumors of his possible retirement have been circulating for most of the season.

After the game was over, Bergeron hugged each Bruins teammate as they entered the dressing room.

“A moment to share with them and thank them for fighting together every day,” Bergeron said of Saturday’s final moments on the ice. “It stings. It’s not the feeling you want. Apart from that, we made it together.”

Bergeron is by far the longest-serving bruin and has played for the team since they drafted him in 2003.

Brad Marchand, who has played the same line as Bergeron for much of the past 12 seasons, was emotional as he discussed his teammate’s possible retirement.

“He is the backbone of our team. Obviously most of our team. We want him to come back,” Marchand said. “But whatever happens, he has earned the right to make any decision he wants and to take the time he needs. I think time will tell.”

“It’s a personal matter that he and his family will decide,” Marchand added. “I obviously foisted my case on him to get him to come back. If he ever wanted to open up and talk about it, that’s up to him. But I didn’t want to put him under pressure.”

Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy shared similar thoughts about Bergeron set to return to Boston next season.

“I hope not,” Cassidy said when asked if he had any idea if it was Bergeron’s last game against the Bruins on Saturday. “He means so much to this franchise that we all want him back. But only he can answer that. I have no idea, I didn’t ask him about it. It’s not my mid-season spot. He will make that decision for the future.”

Bergeron is still playing at a high level. He played his third All-Star game this season, scoring 25 goals and 40 assists. In the series against Carolina, Bergeron scored three goals and had four assists, earning him one point per game.

When Bergeron’s team asked him to stay, all he could think about was the loss to Carolina.

“It’s always hard to tell when you’re coming up short, but we fought,” Bergeron said. “We’ve been doing that all year. We started a little slow this year, that streak was kind of the same but we fought back and played the kind of hockey we needed to move forward. But tonight we fell short and obviously we needed a little bit more.”

The Bruins trailed 3-1 for most of the last 30 minutes of the game. However, with the keeper drawn, David Pastrnak scored with 21 seconds left to cut the Hurricanes’ lead to 3-2.

Bergeron won the faceoff that followed and Boston had one last rush. Boston caused chaos in front of the net, and Bergeron caught a few shots to try and tie the game. But Hurricanes goalie Antti Raanta and the skaters in front of him made the necessary stops to keep the game from going into overtime.

Bergeron thought his team had a chance there in the end as he recalled the chances the Bruins had in Game 7.

“You’re one shot away at that point,” Bergeron said of the final seconds. “I thought we took a leap out of it and took the momentum back. We had some good layers, good looks – some good looks in the first one too, that those jumps when they’re going your way are a different game. That’s easy to say now. Hats off to them. They played a great series, a great game. You are making progress.”

Now Bergeron has to think about his future. Will he be playing hockey again next season, and if so, will he be with the Bruins?

The answer to these questions is not yet known. What Bergeron does know, however, is that he likes the Bruins’ young players.

“I was taught that early in my career. Basically it has to be a cycle. When it’s your turn, you have to give it back and do it,” Bergeron said as the leader. “We have some great young players who are open to listening and learning. You see the growth in these guys – [Charlie] McAvoy, [Brandon] Carlos, [Pastrnak] – it is impressive. It’s great to see.” Patrice Bergeron remained undecided about his hockey future after the Bruins were eliminated from the playoffs

Matthew Hallett

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