BOSTON (AP) — Patrice Bergeron, who in two decades with the Boston Bruins established himself as the NHL's dominant two-way forward and one of the most respected players in the game, announced Tuesday “with a full heart and a lot of gratitude” that he will retire.

“I have given the game everything that I have physically and emotionally, and the game has given me back more than I could have ever imagined,” the Bruins captain said in a statement posted on social media. “As I step away today, I have no regrets. I have only gratitude that I lived my dream, and excitement for what is next for my family and I. I left everything out there and I’m humbled and honored it was representing this incredible city and for the Boston Bruins fans."

Bergeron, who turned 38 on Monday, helped the Bruins win the Stanley Cup in 2011 and make two other trips to the Final. He considered retirement last summer only to return for another season: With him as the captain and the first-line center, the Bruins posted the best regular-season record in NHL history, and Bergeron won an unprecedented sixth Selke Trophy as the NHL's top defensive forward.

But Bergeron missed the first four games of the playoffs with a herniated disk, and the Stanley Cup favorites lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Florida Panthers. He wrote Tuesday that he knows “how blessed and lucky I feel to have had the career that I have had, and that I have the opportunity to leave the game I love on my terms.”

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“It wasn’t a decision that I came to lightly,” he said. “But after listening to my body, and talking with my family, I know in my heart that this is the right time to step away from playing the game I love.”

In all, Bergeron scored 427 goals with 613 assists in 19 seasons — all with the Bruins, who selected him in the second round of the 2003 draft.

His announcement thanked the Bruins management and staff, the Boston fans and media and his teammates and family and ended with a message to the next generation of hockey players.

“I had a dream at 12 years old, and through hard work and perseverance my dreams came true more than I ever could have imagined,” he wrote. “Respect the game and your peers. Welcome adversity and simply enjoy yourself. No matter where you go from there the game will bring you so much happiness.”

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