Free agency stressful for Bergeron

RYAN PYETTE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:28 AM ET

HAMILTON -- Marc-Andre Bergeron kept hearing the same thing.

That first taste of free agency is one of the most exciting times in an NHL player's career.

So how did it end up being so stressful for him?

Bergeron didn't end up signing until the defence-depleted Montreal Canadiens inked him to a one-year deal reportedly worth $750,000 this week. He started a conditioning stint in Hamilton with the American Hockey League's Bulldogs yesterday.

"I scored 14 goals (for the Minnesota Wild) last year and had one of my best seasons, so with it being my first shot at free agency, I thought a lot of offers would come in," the 28-year-old defenceman said, "but with the salary cap system, you have to fit in with a team and it took a while for me to do that.

"It's a big business and you have to find your place."

He is likely to get the call to the big club soon.

"It's tough when the season's started and you don't know where you're going yet," he said. "You want to go through training camp and not miss it, but it (practice) felt all right, better than I thought, and I will have only missed three or four games of the (NHL) season."

Bergeron grew up in Trois-Rivieres, but he often found himself following the fortunes of his favourite team -- the old junior Draveurs of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League -- rather than paying attention to the Canadiens.

"But I know everyone in Quebec watches them," he said, "and, for me, the chance for my family to be able to watch me play and it's not that far away means a great deal."


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