NHL fans may not have known the name Torey Krug prior to the Stanley Cup Playoffs last spring, but they certainly do now. The Boston Bruins defenseman made his mark after being called up from their American Hockey League team, the Providence Bruins, in the 2013 postseason, when Krug became the first rookie defenseman in the history of the NHL to score four goals in his first five playoff games. Hoping to make another long postseason run, Krug shared what he’s thinking this year, how he endeared himself to his new teammates early on, and what his biggest role is in the locker room.
Kathryn Tappen: First off, happy birthday! April 12 is a good day.
Torey Krug: Thanks, 23. I’m getting old!
KT: What’s this I hear you are in charge of bringing magazines to the rink every month? What are the job requirements for that gig?
TK: [laughs] That’s a rookie duty. You got to make sure the guys are entertained. I bring magazines like Men’s Fitness, the fashion magazines. Guys are into the muscle cars, and any time you bring Golf Digest it will capture the guys’ attention.
KT: When you first came to the team, you arrived and two days later had to cut all your trademark blonde locks off for the team’s annual Cuts for a Cause. Tell me about that event that Shawn Thornton hosts every year.
TK: When the guy who protects you and your teammates every night on the ice comes to you to ask you to shave your head for charity, it’s pretty tough to say no. Especially in my case where I had only been on the team a couple of days. In all seriousness, it’s a great cause. It’s fun to see what your teammates are involved in and what interests them. You get out in the community and get to interact with the fans. It’s a fun way to raise money and then put it towards a good cause.
KT: You play in a great city there in Boston, a city that has been through a lot. Last year, the Boston Marathon Bombing, and most recently last week the two Boston firefighters who lost their lives fighting a fire. The Bruins have become a saving grace for many people in that city going through tough times. What does that all mean to you?
TK: You appreciate the way the city responds and the fans care. It’s amazing what the team means to this city, how well we are received in the community. I’ve been here for one full year now and yet I feel such a part of the city of Boston, the community and the fans. It’s a special group of people. Moving forward, I’m really excited to be playing here. And the expectations are to win every year.
KT: What was it like growing up playing hockey in Michigan?
TK: My dad was heavily involved in the game. He coached me from my Pee Wee years all the way up to the Midget Majors. He was a big influence on me. Going to the rink as a younger kid watching my two older brothers play hockey, I was never the kid running around playing tag or playing with the other kids in the corner. I was always watching, trying to be a student of the game. I also have a younger brother, but he didn’t play hockey. But we were always together, making long road trips to Toronto to play hockey. We came back champions a lot. It was a lot of fun. I also had Brett Harkins, he played for the Bruins a little bit, and Columbus and Florida as well. He was one of the biggest influences in my life, hockey-wise. I looked up to him as a brother. I keep in contact with him to this day.
KT: Did I hear you say you’re one of four boys?
TK: Yeah, my mom was terrorized!
KT: As a Michigan kid, why did you choose to attend Michigan State over Michigan?
TK: Growing up, I was a bigger fan of the Green and White than I was the University of Michigan. I felt it was a better fit for me. The people who were around Michigan State made me feel at home. There’s a sense of pride when you walk around campus. With the traditions they’ve had with the hockey program, it was something I definitely wanted to pursue. It was a lot of fun for me. My parents were only an hour away, which was the perfect distance. You want to be away from home for college. I was close enough to where I could still visit, but far enough to where I had my independence where I could grow and mature as a person.
KT: You opted to forego your final season of eligibility at Michigan State to sign with Boston. How difficult was it to make that decision?
TK: It was tough, because I loved everything about Michigan State. They gave me an opportunity that I was very blessed to have. To move forward, it was a very tough decision. My freshman year we had nine freshmen, and you become very close to your classmates. It was very tough to leave them after my junior year. We had been through a lot together. We had a lot of fun. But it was really time for me. As a player, I had developed. I had a successful season individually my junior year and it was time. But I can’t thank Michigan State enough for preparing me for the next level.
TK: Talk about being thrown into the fire. I was very lucky. I remember I got to the rink on an off day for the rest of the team. I was pretty early, taping my sticks getting everything ready for the next day. Coach [Claude] Julien came in the door. He gave me a little pep talk, to make sure I was comfortable, told me I got called up for a reason, and if I played my game I would have success. I felt very comfortable about that, and I wasn’t shy. The group of guys in the locker room made it very easy for me to transition. I asked a lot of questions as well. You don’t find that with a lot of locker rooms around the League, especially late and in the playoffs. It was an amazing experience. The entire playoffs went too fast for me, so I’m looking forward to getting it going again this year.
KT: You have your first full season under your belt this year. You’ve seen every team. Who is the hardest player to play against?
TK: There are a lot of players that are very difficult to play against. For me personally, it’s got to be [Pavel] Datsyuk. Growing up, watching him play, and then you finally get the chance to play against him on the same sheet of ice and he’s a magician with the puck. They call him the Magic Man for a reason. He’s very tough, deceptive, and he’ll knock you down too. You add all of that together and he’s a pretty tough player to play against.
KT: Was he your favorite player growing up?
TK: He was one of them. I loved watching the Wings. It’s hard to pick from the group of guys on those Detroit teams over the years, but he’s definitely one of my favorites.
KT: You recently posted a funny picture on Twitter of you and Zdeno Chara standing next to each other on the bench. What is it like playing with Big Z?
TK: I think the first thing that comes to mind is a true professional. He comes to the rink every single day and whether he’s having an up day, or a down day, you can’t tell. It’s pretty amazing. He comes to the rink and has his work boots on and he goes to work. He’s also open to so many questions. He lets us lean on him and ask those questions. We have discussions about players and certain plays. It’s unreal to be able to work with him. It’s a lot of fun that I’m playing with a guy and learning from a player who will one day be in the Hall of Fame.