If the Chicago Blackhawks wind up capturing the Stanley Cup against a Bruins team that is without Patrice Bergeron, surely there will be days, maybe even weeks, of grousing about how things might have been different if only No. 37 had been on the ice.
Even taking into account the uncertain status of Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews for tonight’s Game 6 showdown at the Garden, Bergeron’s absence would be crippling to the depth-challenged Bruins. The cold, hard reality, though, is that this is hockey, and in hockey, especially at Cup time, you muddle on with what you’ve got.
History tends not to dwell too much on star players whose injuries prevented them from playing in The Big Game. OK, sure, no retelling of Game 7 of the 2010 NBA Finals between the Celtics and Lakers is complete without citing the absence of Kendrick Perkins. And, yes, it’s perfectly acceptable to wonder if the great Reds-Red Sox World Series of 1975 might have turned out differently had not rookie Jim Rice been idled after taking a Vern Ruhle fastball off the wrist in the last days of the regular season.

In the end, what matters is the Lakers beat the Celtics and the Reds beat the Red Sox. You play with what you’ve got. And it appears the Bruins will be playing without Patrice Bergeron, reportedly due to a spleen injury. That’s the way it is. Drop the puck already.
But here’s the thing: It’s not just the Bruins who suffer by Bergeron’s absence. It’s hockey.
The game of hockey.
The industry of hockey.
Big time. Just as we celebrate a Gregory Campbell for lifting himself up off the ice and hobbling around on a broken leg to help kill off a Pittsburgh Penguins power play, we should also celebrate Patrice Bergeron as a complete athlete who earns every dime he’s been given.