Missing the playoffs and rehabbing from shoulder surgery have not made for the most pleasant of offseasons. But the Bruins defenseman – who signed a new four-year, $21 million contract in June – tried to use the time off as efficiently as possible.
That meant doing all he could to be back on the ice when the 2016-17 season commences on October 13 in Columbus.
“I was very fortunate – going through the shoulder surgery – that I had a lot of time to recover and hopefully I’ll be good to go for the first game,” Krug said after skating in the Bruins’ first captain’s practice on Monday morning.
“I’d never been through a surgery before…I feel good. I expected probably a harder road, but I’ve been in good hands and they’re telling me that I’m where I’m supposed to be.”
Krug was one of six Bruins to hit the ice, along with Noel Acciari, John-Michael Liles, Adam McQuaid, Frank Vatrano, and David Krejci, who is also on the mend after offseason hip surgery. Krejci, like Krug, does not have a set timeline for when he will be at full strength, but is encouraged with his progression.
“Another day closer,” said Krejci. “I’ve done some more stuff today and I’m already on the ice and kind of getting there, but, obviously, this injury takes time. I like where I am at right now and every day is a step closer. I’m excited for tomorrow.”
The Bruins center returned to the ice last week with some light skating and is beginning to ramp up his on-ice activity with each passing day.
“I started doing some skill steps, so I felt pretty good today,” said Krejci, who joined his teammates for the first 15-20 minutes of the skate. “This is the first week we’re actually increasing the volume of intensity and staying longer on the ice, so this is a pretty exciting week for me.”
Krug, too, is taking things in stride. He is not yet shooting pucks with full force and expects to ease back into the physical side of things.
“Not really even using my shoulder shooting the puck,” said Krug. “I’m trying to avoid any crazy things out there and take it slow, day by day. We still have plenty of time before camp, so as it ramps up here I’ll probably do that as well.
“I have no concerns…I’ve been in great hands and working hard to get back to make sure I’m as strong as I was before – and probably even stronger now that we’re focused on it.”
Krejci said he was not yet sure if he would participate with the Czech Republic in next month’s 2016 World Cup of Hockey, but is in frequent contact with the team’s coaching staff and management personnel.
“If I’m 100 percent, then obviously I’m going to play,” said Krejci. “You don’t want to be sitting on the sideline when you’re 100 percent and you know you could be there. This is a pretty big tournament and I would love to be a part of it.
“But at the same time, if I’m not 100 percent, then I don’t want to feel bad. I just want to get to 100 percent and play my best hockey.”
Krug said he is excited to work with new Bruins assistant coach Bruce Cassidy. Cassidy, who will oversee the defense, coached Krug in Providence during the blue liner’s lone season with the P-Bruins in 2012-13.
“I think any time you switch personnel there’s a little bit of time that it takes to get used to the personalities and work out some things,” said Krug, who tallied 13 goals and 32 assists in Providence.
“Personally, I’ve worked with Butch in Providence. One of my favorite coaches to play for…It’s very exciting for him to come in. He’ll help us with our transition game and moving the puck. He’s one of the smartest hockey coaches I’ve talked with. I’m excited to work with him and embrace that.”
Krug is also confident in his fellow defensemen.
“We have pieces in here that maybe some don’t get too excited about,” said Krug. “We know that we’re highly capable of taking on whatever’s thrown our way. I think we’ll see what happens.
“But the D-men are motivated to prove a lot of people wrong that are saying we’re not ready to compete to be a playoff team.”