Twelve days after he suffered a Grade 3 concussion and a broken nose when he was belted into the end boards at TD Banknorth Garden, Patrice Bergeron didn't have to speak to relay how he was feeling.
His body said it all.
Bergeron, wearing a dark, pinstriped suit and a white shirt under his neck collar, strode slowly yesterday into the Will McDonough Press Room. The 22-year-old Bergeron, walking carefully while hunching over slightly, had the pace of an older man, using both hands as he climbed the steps onto a podium, where he spoke for approximately 12 minutes, half in English and half in French.
"I'd be lying if I said I feel good right now," said Bergeron, speaking in a more hushed tone than usual. "It's tough for me to be sitting here. I feel a lot of the symptoms from the concussion."
It was Bergeron's first appearance with the media since Philadelphia defenseman Randy Jones hit him from behind in a game Oct. 27. Bergeron spoke quietly but alertly and was attentive to questions, although general manager Peter Chiarelli said Bergeron was tired after the press conference - trainer Don DelNegro whisked him away for quick attention - and needed a cold compress.
There is no timetable for Bergeron's return.
"I'm sure I'll be back," said Bergeron, who has an appointment with a neurologist today. "My goal right now is about feeling better as a person."
The Bruins have not any made major moves to replace Bergeron, who scored three goals and had four assists in 10 games, only sending David Krejci to Providence and promoting Petteri Nokelainen Sunday. Chiarelli is likely inquiring about offensive help, especially considering the team's funk.
Asked if Bergeron is dealing with a career-threatening injury, Chiarelli said, "I know Patrice. He's very strong-willed and he's very strong physically. He's a driven individual. It always sits in the back of your head, but I'm optimistic and believe that he'll be back to the same form that he was."
Bergeron was on a strict time frame with the media. His agent, Kent Hughes, was concerned how Bergeron would react to the lighting - there were three spotlights stationed around the room - required by television cameras.
"It was good to see some emotion and clearheadedness," Chiarelli said. "That certainly hasn't been the case."
In his native French, Bergeron suffered a commotion cérébrale, a much more fitting description than the English version.
Bergeron, who had a slightly purple bruise on the bridge of his nose, said he feels the symptoms of post-concussion syndrome. He becomes dizzy and lightheaded after walking 200 feet and has trouble performing everyday activities. Bergeron has been recuperating at home and undergoing treatment at the Garden and Ristuccia Arena in Wilmington with help from his mother, Sylvie Bergeron. Gerard Cleary, Bergeron's father, had been in Boston since the injury but had to return to Quebec last week.
Although Bergeron was knocked unconscious by the hit, he remembers much of what happened. Bergeron couldn't recall why he was going after the puck and what he was planning to do with it. But after watching a replay, he remembered he wanted to bat a backhand pass to linemate Chuck Kobasew.
Bergeron said he received an apology from Jones last week, but he was in no condition to take the call.
"I don't plan on taking any legal action at all," Bergeron said in French. "It has nothing to do with Randy Jones. I have no war of words with him. It's about changing things so that no one else has to go through this."
Bergeron emphasized he had nothing critical to say about Jones. But Bergeron was adamant Jones delivered a hit from behind. The Quebec native said part of the press conference was to voice a sentiment to fellow NHLers, media, and fans that such hits are not part of the game and can lead to severe injuries.
"Right now, part of this is to send a message that we need to think about the consequences when you go for a hit like that," Bergeron said.
"You have to hold back. Hitting is part of the game. But not from behind. Obviously, we need to think about that throughout the league. As players, we need to respect each other a little bit more.
"I know I'm not the only one who's been saying that in past years. I think it's something that needs to be done. It's about thinking about the consequences when you're on the ice. I'm sure no one would like to be in my position right now. It's tough. But at the same time, I'm actually walking.
"It could be worse."