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Krejci Reflecting During NHL's Pause

Veteran centerman using time to appreciate career, ponder future

by Eric Russo @erusso22 / BostonBruins.com

BostonBruins.com - Like so many, David Krejci is starving for some hockey.

With the National Hockey League on pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Krejci is getting his daily fix by watching Bruins YouTube highlights in between workout sessions and playtime with his kids. It is a practice he hopes does not last much longer.

"We were in really good position with 10 or 12 games left, a pretty big lead," Krejci said of the Bruins, who were first in the league with 100 points at the time of the pause on March 12. "We were obviously feeling pretty good. I understand playoffs is different, you start from zero. But the way we went so far last year in the playoffs, the way we were doing so far this year, we were obviously feeling pretty good about ourselves. 

"A little frustrating, but if you turn on the TV, turn on CNN, you see the bigger picture and it puts life in perspective…I'm just glad everyone is safe and healthy."

Hockey is indeed secondary these days, but that has not stopped Krejci and his teammates from making sure they remain in the best shape possible as the prospect of resuming the 2019-20 season remains open.

"Mentally you want to be back playing. I miss hockey, everyone misses hockey - the players, fans, everyone…you won't have to look for any extra motivation anywhere, it's right there," said Krejci. "You've got to do your part at home, physically, and make sure you're in good shape for when or if we start the season.

"In Boston, we have so many good leaders, coaching staff, they're just making sure that everyone is ready for every single game…for the players, right now, all we can do and control is stay in shape."

Krejci, who turns 34 on Tuesday, was in the midst of his 14th NHL season when things shut down last month. As his career inches toward the back nine, the centerman knows that his opportunities to lift the Stanley Cup for a second time are dwindling, making the thought of this season not continuing even more difficult to process.

"You definitely want to finish the season, especially the older you get you don't know how many seasons you have left," said Krejci. "We were pretty close to playoffs and having another crack at it. You don't want to just brush the season off and start a new one. Definitely want to finish it, especially with the team we had this year being on top of the standings with 10 games left in the regular season, would be nice to finish the season off.

"At the same time, being off for this long, who knows for how many more weeks and months, and then go right back into the playoffs, that's going to be a challenge. I don't think for us it's gonna be an advantage.

"I don't think it will matter who finished first or 15 or 20. I think if we start the season or the playoffs it's just gonna be like the beginning of a new season anyways."

Video: David Krejci Talks to Media on Zoom Video Call

No End in Sight?

Krejci will be an unrestricted free agent following the 2020-21 season, which will wrap up the six-year, $43.5 million contract he signed in 2014. And the pivot made it clear on Monday afternoon that he has no plans to retire when that deal expires next summer.

"We'll see [what the future holds]. I'm not planning on retiring, that's for sure," said Krejci, who will be 35 at the end of the deal. "I'm gonna play after that. What's gonna happen I don't know, I guess we'll see what happens after next year. But definitely not planning on going into the next season as it being my last."

During this six-week pause, Krejci acknowledged that he has had more time to reflect and appreciate how fortunate he has been - both on and off the ice.

"It's not just this situation, but the older you get the more you appreciate everything," said Krejci, who is spending quarantine with his wife, Naomi, daughter, Elina, and son, Everett. "Your life changes at home. You're married with kids, so you appreciate all the little things, being around the guys, being on the road, then being home you appreciate everything a little bit more than you did before you had kids.

"I'm really enjoying coming to the rink every day, being on the road with the guys. I also love being at home, being a dad, husband. Was living the dream before this whole situation happened, but I'm sure we'll beat this one day and all go back to our lives again."

Hello, Old Friends 

Speaking of reflecting, Krejci was thrilled to reunite with his 2011 Bruins teammates last week via Zoom to re-watch their Cup-clinching Game 7 victory over the Vancouver Canucks. The group reminisced - and took plenty of jabs at each other - about that magical run during a call that lingered on after the broadcast ended.

"That was cool. Pretty much everyone being there, just kind of hanging out. We obviously stayed on for a little bit longer once we went offline," said Krejci, who led the NHL in postseason scoring that spring with 23 points in 25 games. "It's just cool to see everyone and nice to see that we still have a really good relationship after all these years.

"That's why you play the sport. You want to create lots of memories and stay friends when you're done playing. I think half the guys on that chat are already done playing. But we're still all pretty close and have lots of fun when we get together. It was pretty unique."

Together Again: A Look Back at the 2011 Bruins' Virtual Reunion

Krejci noted that while the 2011 team was certainly a special group - one that formed a unique bond beginning with its preseason trip to Prague in his native Czech Republic - each season and team holds a special place in his heart.

"Every single year you have great memories, no matter if you win or lose, you create those memories," said Krejci. "Those are the best things about sports, about hockey. Every single year you become close to those guys because you spend so much time with all of them, they are your family pretty much.

"I don't want to say that 2011 was anything better than last year - they are family, this is my family now. You just kind of hope that you stay in touch. Obviously, 2011, the way we ended is more special because you get to see each other on the 10-year anniversary and here and there. That's cool." 

Empty Feeling

Should the season resume - and the Bruins finish off their redemption tour with a Stanley Cup victory - it could all happen in empty buildings, which will certainly take some getting used to.

"That will be weird because the fans are a big part of the sport," said Krejci. "Without the fans it wouldn't be the way it is now, wouldn't have the integrity, I guess. But if that's what we're gonna have to do, then that's what we're gonna have to do. I'm sure people would watch on TV. But it will be a little bit different.

"You always think about winning the Cup, lifting it up with the crowd there, then have a parade back in the city. But I understand that it's not possible right now. It is what it is, there are more important things than that. I'm sure people would watch it, TV's been pretty boring with no live sports right now."

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