Nick Goss

Best candidates to replace Patrice Bergeron as next Bruins captain

The B's have several good choices to wear the "C" next.

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The Boston Bruins have had just three different captains over the last 20 NHL seasons.

Joe Thornton took over the "C" in 2002-03 and served in that role until he was traded to the San Jose Sharks during the 2005-06 campaign. The ensuing summer saw the Bruins make a splash in free agency, including the signing of star defenseman Zdeno Chara.

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Chara was given the captaincy and blossomed into one of the sport's most respected players and leaders during his 14-year career in Boston -- a run that also included a Norris Trophy in 2008-09 and a Stanley Cup title in 2010-11. His departure after the 2019-20 season opened the door to Patrice Bergeron taking over the "C". Similar to Chara, Bergeron garnered immense respect inside his own locker room and around the league for his leadership and elite on-ice performance. Bergeron had been an alternate captain since 2006-07, so he was more than ready for the job.

The Bruins will announce a new captain in the coming months. Bergeron announced his retirement Tuesday after 19 seasons with the Original Six franchise. Bergeron spent his final three years as B's captain.

There are plenty of quality leaders in the Bruins' locker room, but only a couple of them are truly worthy of consideration for the "C".

In fact, it would be a massive upset if one of the three players listed below was not named the next Bruins captain, so let's break down why they're qualified for that role.

Brad Marchand

Marchand is likely the favorite to be the new captain. He has taken on more and more of a leadership role since he was first named a permanent alternate captain in 2018-19. He's become a much more mature player over that span, as well as a vocal leader on and off the ice.

One example of that came in the summer of 2021 when Marchand addressed all of the Bruins players at development camp with a fantastic speech on what the Bruins expect of everyone, the goal of winning the Stanley Cup and more.

Bergeron's departure, combined with the possibility of David Krejci retiring as well, will result in the Bruins losing two longtime players with great institutional knowledge and Stanley Cup-winning experience. Marchand and Milan Lucic are the only players on the roster who were part of Boston's title team in 2010-11. But unlike Lucic, Marchand has spent his entire career here.

Marchand's improved leadership, immense experience, impressive playoff resume and other factors make him the best choice to get the "C". He was Bergeron's close friend and linemate for a long time. He learned from the best, and now he could have a chance to build on the culture that Chara and Bergeron created.

Charlie McAvoy

McAvoy, along with Pastrnak, is one of the two pillars of the Bruins' next core. They are franchise cornerstone players both signed through at least the 2029-30 season. McAvoy is the team's No. 1 defenseman and plays in all types of situations. He's an elite player and has twice finished top five in Norris Trophy voting. McAvoy also plays with the kind of toughness and grit that Bruins fans love and expect from their players. His physical play often sets the tone for the Bruins, especially in the playoffs. McAvoy has worn an "A" as an alternate captain numerous times in recent years, too.

Several of the Bruins' most memorable captains were defensemen, including Ray Bourque and Chara. It wouldn't be surprising if McAvoy joins that group before his career in Boston is finished.

David Pastrnak

Pastrnak is the team's biggest star. He scored a career-high 61 goals and 113 points last season, which helped him finish second in Hart Trophy (league MVP) voting. Pastrnak has a great personality, and he's improved so much as a leader since making his NHL debut as an 18-year-old early in the 2014-15 campaign. He also has been a regular alternate captain for the Bruins in each of the last two seasons.

Pastrnak is about to enter his 10th campaign with the Bruins. He's the face of the franchise, the team's most talented player, and a much better leader than he was even a few years ago. Marchand and McAvoy are more deserving, but giving the "C" to Pastrnak certainly wouldn't be a mistake.

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