WILMINGTON — A player’s rookie year in the NHL  presents some pretty predictable obstacles. Getting used to the speed of the game, limiting mistakes, and not letting the game get inside one’s own head. When the player is under 20 years of age and learning a new language, perhaps the jitters felt and the speedbumps experienced become enhanced a bit, and the rookie naturally seeks the guidance of a player who was once in similar shoes.
That may be exactly the relationship that exists between Bruins second-liners Jordan Caron and Patrice Bergeron . Both players come from Quebec, and like Bergeron did as an 18-year-old in the 2003-04 season, Caron, 19, is entering a new league while also trying to master a new language. To this point, both his English and his game have come along nicely, though the whole package has been aided by the now 25-year-old Bergeron.
After over-thinking situations on the ice at points in the team’s scrimmage in Belfast, Bergeron and Mark Recchi , at the time linemates with Caron, had lunch and discussed the challenges the young winger was facing. The lunch concluded with the two deciding that it would be best if Bergeron took Caron for dinner to remind him of how big a difference he could make.
‘It’s been a long camp for me, but I don’t want to take that as an excuse,’ Caron said a few days after the Belfast game . ‘I guess it has been a long training camp for me, but I have to get over it and just try to do my best.’
While in Prague, Bergeron did take Caron, who by then had been demoted to the third line, out for the meal, one that both players feel helped the rookie.
“We went for dinner in Prague. I didn’t say much. It was just to make him feel comfortable and realize that he’s part of the team and he’s a good player and that even though he’s young, he’s good,” Bergeron said, adding that he told Caron to, “just play the same game that he’s been playing throughout his career.”
After scoring in the team’s preseason finale in Liberec, Czech Republic, Caron was a scratch in the season-opener against the Coyotes, a game in which the team fell to Phoenix, 5-2. He made his NHL  debut on Sunday, being bumped back up to the second line with Bergeron and Blake Wheeler . Caron logged a team-low 9:42 minutes of ice time but got a couple of shots on net in the process, making an overall first impression that he’s glad to have gotten out of the way.
Since the team returned from Prague, Caron has skated with the second line and though he has taken to the “anything can happen” mentality, it appears his ice time will only go up as the season progresses. As that comes, so too may more rookie challenges, but Bergeron has made it clear to Caron that he is more than happy with aiding in the adjustment as well as he can. After all, it wasn’t long ago that he had a go-to guy in the locker room for the same purpose.
“Martin Lapointe was always there [for me] my first year,” Bergeron recalled. “He was always calming me down and helping me make sure I wasn’t getting ahead of myself.”
Bergeron lived with Lapointe and his family in his rookie year. On the ice, he made big strides, contributing 39 points as rookie despite facing the challenges that accompany someone learning English off the ice.
“It was pretty hard, especially that first year. It was different and difficult as well, just for opening bank accounts and all that, social security number, and all that stuff,” Bergeron said. “Things that were different with me are pretty much the same with Jordan. They’re all things you’ve got to go through, but with help it’s pretty easy.”
A difference can definitely be observed in Caron’s English from the summer’s rookie development camp until now. He notes that he’s “getting comfortable with everything,” but that he’s not afraid to be persistent with Bergeron if it means getting a firmer grasp on things.
“I don’t want to be annoying, but he told me not to be scared to ask him anything, and that’s what I do,” Caron said.” If I don’t understand a drill sometimes because the language is different, I’ll go right up to him and ask him.”