Patrice Bergeron spending every Friday on the ice with a group of friends and former NHL players in the Boston area sparked some online chatter last week that the former Bruins captain might be planning a dramatic return.

That, however, is not in the cards.

“No, it is not happening,” Bergeron said in an interview with The Canadian Press. “I’m not making a comeback, not trying to make a comeback.”

Bergeron said anyone watching the skates would know there’s no truth to the comeback rumors.

“It’s a slow pace,” he said with a laugh.

Bergeron, who retired in July a day after turning 38, played 19 seasons with the Bruins. He helped them win the Stanley Cup in 2011 and reach the final in 2013 and 2019.

He spent his last three seasons in Boston as captain, succeeding Zdeno Chara. Bergeron is now working with Kraft Hockeyville, a program that has awarded Canadian communities more than $4.8 million to maintain or upgrade sports and recreation infrastructure — including arenas — over the past 18 years.

“I’ve seen the impact, first-hand, hockey can have,” Bergeron said. “A place where people would gather. There were a lot of free skates for people to learn. We want it to be more accessible and find ways to grow the game we all love.”

At peace with his decision to retire, Bergeron said his hockey-tuned body clock started to get antsy in August when the 6-foot-1, 196-pound forward normally would have been ramping up for the season.

“It was telling me: ‘Hey you should be somewhere right now … what’s going on?’” he said. “But I feel like I am where I should be.”

Bergeron, who won Olympic gold with Canada in 2010 and 2014 and was part of the team that won the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, said his love for the game hasn’t wavered.

“Wish I could play forever,” he said. “There’s no second guessing or thinking, ‘Did I do the right thing?'”

Bergeron said he’s impressed by how the Bruins are doing without him, after also losing center David Krejci to retirement but not missing a beat. Boston set the single-season NHL records for wins and points in 2022-23 before being knocked out in the first round of the playoffs by eventual Eastern Conference champion Florida.

“Very proud,” Bergeron said of the Bruins, who again are atop the East past the midway point of the season. “I’m not surprised, if I’m being completely honest. I knew they would be more than fine. So much talent and experience and leadership and character in that locker room.”

He’s also happy to see the launch three weeks ago of the Professional Women’s Hockey League — the first time the women’s game has had a unified North American circuit. Bergeron was on hand for Boston’s opener and announced Hilary Knight as captain.

“Fun to be a part of it, to be witnessing them making history,” he said. “I could sense in that locker room the excitement. It was more than just an opening night. It was a special moment.”

But just like the start of the Bruins’ season, it didn’t get the competitive juices flowing.

Time at home with his family, picking up hobbies and skating alongside buddies once a week is where Bergeron now belongs.

“I’m doing the things I’ve always wanted to do,” he said. “I’m just enjoying life.”

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AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/NHL

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