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September 11, 2013 | 3:55pm ET
Patrice Bergeron is reporting for duty
By Shawn Hutcheon,

BOSTON, MA -- On a day when all of New England focused its attention on the season opening game for the NFL's Patriots, the Boston Bruins could be found on the ice at their practice facility in Wilmington, Massachusetts, running through their paces during an informal captains practice.

Almost all of the team's veterans took part in the drills and scrimmage and appeared happy to, as they say in the movies, "have the band back together again" and eager to get the 2013-14 season started.

One player who had a particular gleam in his eye was alternate captain Patrice Bergeron, who was skating with his teammates for the first time since game six of the 2013 Stanley Cup Final.

"Yeah, it's good to be back," Bergeron told the assembled media after the skating session on Sunday. "Good to be here and chat with the guys to see what they did all summer. Itís good to be back at it."

Bergeron, who is one of the most popular players in Bruins history among Boston fans, saw the admiration of teammates and fans alike rise to new heights when it was revealed that he played in the Final versus Chicago with numerous upper body injuries including a broken rib, torn rib cartilage, a separated shoulder and a punctured lung.

The 28-year-old center will enter his ninth season with the club and although he is still experiencing some discomfort from his injuries, he is hoping to get the green light from team doctors when training camp commences.

Being a professional athlete means that once the season ends, you rest for a short period of time then begin putting your body through punishing training sessions to be able to withstand the rigors of the season, but for the native of Ancienne-Lorette, Quebec, the rest was longer than usual.

"I had to take it easy for 4 or 5 weeks," Bergeron explained. "They told me not to fly or blow into a balloon and stuff like that so obviously, I wasn't going to do that. I just laid low for four weeks then I just tried to build (my body) back up and had no issues. I just pushed myself along to be able to get back at it."

And after needing the time to recover from his playoff injuries, Bergeron's eyes light up when talking about the start of training camp.

"I'm very excited," said Bergeron. "You know, it's always a great time of year to get back at it and get ready for the season."

Bergeron also acknowledged the changes in Boston's lineup that took place during the summer and is looking forward to playing with his new teammates, specifically, Loui Eriksson and Jarome Iginla.

"There will be an adjustment to get to know these guys but most of the guys are back (from last year)," the forward said. "I think it's good to get some fresh blood and guys who are excited to be here and have the great mix that we have already. I think it's good."

Of course, thanks to his international hockey experiences, "Bergey," as he is known by his teammates, is already familiar with Eriksson and Iginla.

"I had a chance to meet him (Eriksson) last year during the lockout at the Spengler Cup (tournament) in Switzerland and he seemed like a really nice guy and now I've had the chance to meet him even more (here) and I'm excited to have him with us," Bergeron continued. "I think heís a great player and seems to be a great person."

Bergeron spoke very highly of Iginla, as well.

"I had the chance to play with him in the (2010) Olympics (for Canada). He's a terrific person, player and a great leader."

Being one of the team's alternate captains, Bergeron knows the importance of a team's chemistry off the ice as well as on it and believes the addition of new players will see the winning atmosphere, that has existed in the Bruins dressing room for quite some time, continue.

"The guys we got are great leaders and great in the room and we're keeping pretty much our core as well. I think the mind set and atmosphere should be the same," said Bergeron.

The Boston Bruins organization is entering its 90th year in the National Hockey League and throughout those 90 seasons, words such as tough, determined and gritty, have become synonymous with the team.

After seeing what this Bruin endured during the 2013 Stanley Cup Final and the effort he has expended to get himself ready for the new season, the veteran center has taken those traits to new levels or to put in other terms, when someone asks what does it take to be a Bruin, the answer is, watch Patrice Bergeron.

Shawn Hutcheon is the Boston Correspondent for The Fourth Period.

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