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Always a Bruin, Krejci Committed to Bringing Cup Back to Boston

by Caryn Switaj / Boston Bruins

BOSTON, MA - David Krejci has arrived back in Boston for the 2014-15 season, having signed a six-year contract extension that keeps him a Bruin through the 2020-21 season.

On Monday afternoon, he met with media in front of his locker room stall at TD Garden, politely spending 15 minutes answering questions about the contract, the upcoming season and a summer full of training.

Krejci was being Krejci. The Czech was soft-spoken, honest with his words, and even smiled and bantered back and forth with reporters, in his usual thick accent. He was comfortable, and he had plenty of reasons to be.

"It’s awesome, you know, that they believe in you, that they trust you - that means a lot. You just go out there and play the game," Krejci said, of the commitment shown by the Bruins and General Manager Peter Chiarelli with the new contract. "You don’t think about anything else."

"To have Peter, Cam [Neely], and the whole organization behind me, that’s awesome, that’s perfect."

Krejci joins Patrice Bergeron and Tuukka Rask as Bruins signed through at least the 2020-21 season. Bergeron and Rask signed eight-year contract extensions last summer. Bergeron's deal goes through 2021-22. Zdeno Chara's current seven-year deal runs through 2017-18.

"And being in the same room for a few more years with Tuukks, Bergy and Zdeno - hopefully Looch next year, we'll see what happens - but I really feel that we have a really good team again this year and in the next few years as well," Krejci continued.

"So hopefully we can make a run, and that's why I signed here. I want to win another Cup, and this is the team that can do it."

Krejci could have become an unrestricted free agent next summer. He could have tested the market. But he didn't want to. He wanted to get a deal done, especially prior to this season, the final one of his current three-year deal.

"I wanted to play where I can win, and to feel that Peter and the organization feels that I could help them win the Cup," said Krejci. "That means a lot, and I didn’t hesitate. I accepted the offer and I’m glad that I can be a Bruin for the next seven years."

Starting with Chara, Chiarelli has kept his core players all around the same salary number of $7 million, while planning for a higher salary cap in the coming years (Krejci's salary is worth an annual cap figure of $7.25 million).

"There’s no question that these players - I don’t just mean Dave - the ones that we’ve signed, if they went to the open market, they would get more," Chiarelli said after Krejci's extension was announced. "So they’ve made a sacrifice, we’ve made a commitment, and for that, we’re appreciative."

That commitment goes both ways.

With confidence from Chiarelli, Head Coach Claude Julien and the rest of the organization, Krejci and the Bruins' core have put in the work in return.

"It's always nice to have guys playing together for a long period of time, and they know what they can expect from each other," said Chara. "It’s one of those things that creates a strong bond among the team and players, so it’s a great commitment."

Since making his NHL debut during Chara's first season in Boston in 2006-07, Krejci has gone on to put up 378 points (110 goals, 268 assists) through 504 games. Though the center was disappointed in his 2014 postseason output (four assists through 12 games), his playoff prowess in 2011 and 2013 is what helped propel Boston to the Cup, and then a return to the Final.

"He’s been a real valuable player for us. You’ve seen his performance during the season, you’ve seen his performances during the playoffs," Chiarelli said. "He’s come up through the ranks for us."

"I consider him one of the pillars of this franchise."

Krejci's current role on the 2014-15 Bruins is naturally much different than the one in 2006-07, when he played just six games in Boston, and spent the rest of the season honing his skills with Providence.

"He has a way to go, but he has that willingness to work," Don Sweeney said, way back in the summer of 2007.

A young Krejci kept working.

In 2007-08, he made the Bruins' opening night roster along with Milan Lucic, but spent another season going back and forth on I-95 between Boston and Providence. It wasn't until 2008-09 when he assumed his first full-time role in the Spoked-B.

"I think right from his first training camp, he showed some amazing skills and poise with the puck and also smarts," Bergeron recalled. "I think he’s got a very high hockey IQ and you can tell that every time he’s got the puck. He makes other players around him better and he’s definitely a great guy off the ice as well."

"He’s developed as a leader, but also a great player. It’s been great to see it, and be there to notice it."

Krejci was awarded the "A" as alternate captain prior to the 2013-14 season, following the departure of Andrew Ference. With voices like Shawn Thornton and Jarome Iginla gone from the room for 2014-15, Krejci is looking to assume an even greater role as a leader.

"It was a learning experience for me - it was a little bit new, but I feel like I did an OK job," he said of his first season in the "A."

"Right now, I know how to treat the other guys in the dressing room and I feel like I can take on a bigger role, so I’m ready and I’ll be doing the same thing as I have been always - I’m going to try to be a little bit more vocal in the room and help the younger guys, but lead by example on the ice, and that’s pretty much what you can do."

After 500-plus games in the Spoked-B, Krejci is no longer the 18-year-old Czech trying to carve out a place in the NHL.

The 28-year-old is now the role model of 18-year-olds like David Pastrnak, working towards their own NHL dreams.

Still, Krejci keeps up his willingness to work.

"I feel like I’m in really good shape. So only time will tell, but I feel great," the center said, of his fitness level following a rare long summer of training. "I wanted to come into camp in the best shape I could be."

At camp, Krejci will encounter a situation similar to last September, where he will have to adjust to a new right winger. Loui Eriksson has been pegged with the opportunity to earn that role alongside Krejci and Lucic.

"I’m looking forward to it," said Krejci. "I’m kind of going into this camp - obviously I’ve been here for so many years, but this time you don’t know who’s going to be playing on your right side. It looks like Loui, but we’ll see what happens, so I’m kind of excited [to see] how the camp will go, how we’re going to create chemistry, and we will see what we’re going to do."

Always aiming to improve, Krejci believes having great passers like Eriksson and Lucic on his wings could help him generate more scoring chances.

"I want to get better every year. That's my goal - get more goals, and help the team to win more games," said the playmaker who he led the team with 50 assists last season, but noticeably adopted more of a shoot-first mentality. "Get in a good spot, in a good position for playoffs, and go from there."

Krejci sees the window of opportunity for the Bruins. He's happy to be in the Spoked-B for many years to come, but he's also not getting ahead of himself.

"Just one step at a time. I’m only 28 right now so, I feel like I’m just entering my prime right now," Krejci said. "When I’ll be 35, that’s going to be my last year, and obviously I’m going to try to be the best player I can be at that age. I know it’s not going to be easy, but we’ll see what happens, you know."

"But that’s a long way from now, so I’m just focusing on this year, and we’ll go from there."

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