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Capt. Practice Notebook: Krejci Set to Embrace Mentor Role

Veteran center excited to take young players under his wing

by Eric Russo @NHLBruins / BostonBruins.com

BOSTON - When David Krejci glances around the Bruins' dressing room these days he sees a changing demographic. While Boston's Stanley Cup-winning core remains, an ever-increasing volume of youth continues to inch its way closer to the roster.

With so much young talent dotting the hallways of Warrior Ice Arena this fall - and the real possibility that up to a handful could make their way onto the varsity for Opening Night - Krejci is among the veterans willing to embrace the idea of taking on more of a mentoring role.

"I've been here for a while now," said Krejci, who is entering his 12th NHL season. "It's always nice to come back here [in the fall]. The young guys, there's more than a 10-year difference now. It's a little bit different, but at the same time, once you make the team we're all on the same page and the same boat.

"It doesn't matter if you're 19 or if you're 40, we're a team and we're a family. That's how it is."

Krejci admitted it remains a challenge to form those relationships at this stage given the informal nature of captain's practices. But when training camp commences next Thursday, the work towards forming a bond with the prospects pushing for spots will begin in earnest.

"I don't know them yet. Once training camp starts, you have some more conversations and get to know guys, you can get to know the guys a little better," said Krejci. "So I'm looking forward to that. As for right now, it's just about being here with the guys and feeling comfortable on the ice and getting back to your normal routine."

Video: Krejci speaks at captain's practices

Depending on where some of the more established players slot into the lineup - particularly on the wings - Krejci could have openings on either side of him. Among the candidates to fill those gaps are younger players like Frank Vatrano and newcomer Kenny Agostino, both of whom have NHL experience.

But there is also a large contingent of rookies who would like a crack at playing alongside Krejci, among them Anders Bjork, Jake DeBrusk, and Danton Heinen.

"I've heard lots of good things…we'll see what they can do in camp," said Krejci, who tied a career-high last season by potting 23 goals. "If I play with one of them, hopefully we can get some chemistry early on and preseason games and carry it on in the regular season.

"It will be exciting to get some new faces on my line and get some chemistry and kind of get a feel for what they're like. It will be fun."

On a personal level, Krejci - who missed three of the six postseason games last spring due to a lower-body injury - is feeling strong after a full summer of training. Entering last season, the pivot was a bit behind, as he did not resume full workouts until August while recovering from hip surgery.

"I feel great now," said Krejci, who acknowledged dropping a few pounds and focusing on his speed and quickness over the offseason. "I had the whole summer to work out, didn't have any setbacks. Last year I had hip surgery, so I started working out in August, September. I got four months under my belt, so I feel pretty good."

Business Men

Torey Krug knows as well as anyone that the National Hockey League is a business, first and foremost. The 26-year-old blueliner, who inked a four-year contract with an average annual value of $5.25 million before last season, has seen firsthand the ups and downs of negotiations.

Krug missed part of the 2014-15 preseason, as he and his representatives tried to work out a new deal with the Bruins. Eventually the sides came together on a contract and Krug went on to tally 12 goals and 27 assists in 78 games.

The defenseman is hoping for a similarly positive outcome between the Bruins and David Pastrnak, who is currently a restricted free agent.

"Going through it personally," said Krug, "not being here and seeing the guys coming together, missing captain's practice…and then it bleeds into camp and you're missing testing, a couple preseason games and it bleeds through. It's pretty frustrating sitting at home.

"I can imagine what he's going through. But it's the nature of the business sometimes, and you can only echo what everyone else says, that both sides want him to be here and hopefully it gets done soon."

Trusting the Process

Fresh off back-to-back seasons of at least 37 goals, Brad Marchand - a first-time All-Star last season - said he is not as much focused on a repeat performance as he is simply trying to be the most consistent player possible.

"I don't think that's the goal, to recreate that," Marchand said of his past two campaigns. "I think we were put in some really good positions the last couple years and sometimes things just bounce your way and that's the way it seemed to go the last two seasons.

"But I think it's more about the preparation, the way you prepare every day, taking care of yourself and being ready for each game, and if you do that, then you'll be consistent.

"But you don't want to look at the end goal, you want to look at the process."

Video: Final captain's practice comes to an end

Speed Kills

The days of the NHL requiring a heavy, bulky style of play are dwindling. Speed, quickness, and agility are the traits in vogue.

Thus, some of the league's veterans are being forced to change the way they train in the offseason. Heavy lifting sessions are being traded out for much more calculated workouts.

"That's the way the game's going right now," said Marchand. "Everyone's trying to get faster. You don't have to be the strongest guy like it used to be. Now it's about the speed and regardless if you're big or small, you have to work on that quickness and speed - especially the older you get.

"You tend to drop off a little quicker, so you just want to try to fire that nervous system and get it to continue to learn and be quicker."

Taking Attendance

Wednesday morning's captain's practice consisted of 26 players, with many of the youngsters staying off the ice ahead of Thursday's opening of Rookie Camp, presented by AT&T.

Here's a look at who took part in the informal session:

Forwards: Noel Acciari, Agostino, David Backes, Matt Beleskey, Patrice Bergeron, Bjork, Peter Cehlarik, Jesse Gabrielle, Krejci, Marchand, Riley Nash, Tim Schaller, Frank Vatrano.

Defensemen: Brandon Carlo, Zdeno Chara, Connor Clifton (camp invite), Tommy Cross, Emil Johansson, Krug, Jeremy Lauzon, Adam McQuaid, Kevan Miller, Paul Postma, Jakub Zboril.

Goalies: Anton Khudobin, Malcolm Subban.

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