CHICAGO (AP) — Patrice Bergeron and a handful of other Boston Bruins players won’t be going to China for a pair of preseason games later this month against the Calgary Flames.
Bergeron is still not 100 percent after offseason groin surgery. Captain Zdeno Chara, who is 41, isn’t going to avoid wear and tear, Torey Krug is coming off a broken ankle, forward Noel Acciari had sports hernia surgery and Anders Bjork had shoulder surgery.
Bergeron said he’s about 85 percent to 90 percent healthy and hopes to be ready for the start of the regular season Oct. 3. As disappointed as he is to miss the trip, the 33-year-old center knows it’s for the best.
“Skating with the guys and being on the ice with them, I would want to push myself more and make sure I’m keeping up with the pace and doing probably too much too early and too soon,” Bergeron said. “I think that’s another reason why. It’s hard.”
The Bruins face the Flames Sept. 15 in Beijing and Sept. 19 in Shenzhen. Boston is taking a big chunk of its NHL roster, including forwards Brad Marchand, David Pastrnak and David Krejci, young defenseman Charlie McAvoy and goaltenders Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak.
The Kings and Canucks played the first NHL exhibition games in China last year. The NHL continues to ramp up its efforts in China, which has poured money into winter sports ahead of hosting the 2022 Olympics in Beijing.
The NHL skipped the 2018 Pyeongchang Games, the first Olympics it didn’t have players participate in since 1994. Olympic participation is expected to be among the topics discussed in collective bargaining talks in coming years.