The following feature is running as part of BostonBruins.com’s #ProspectTBT series, highlighting current Bruins and their paths to the NHL, including key markers like the NHL Entry Draft and the Boston Bruins Development Camp.
BOSTON – For so many athletes, there lurks a faction of people that doubt their abilities. Torey Krug
remembers well what was said about him as he made his way through college at Michigan State.
He was too small. He wasn’t strong enough. He simply wouldn’t be able to compete in the rough-and-tumble National Hockey League.
But the 5-foot-9, 186-pound defenseman did not let those criticisms deter him. Instead, he used it all as motivation.
So when Krug accomplished his ultimate goal and signed with the Boston Bruins on March 25, 2012, things felt all that much sweeter.
“Every time somebody even mentions [my size] I put it in the back of my mind and it serves as motivation to me,” Krug said after he signed with Boston.
“The fact that I finally did sign an NHL contract makes it seem a little bit better, but the minute I become content and satisfied with the fact that I am here, that’s the minute that I’m going to stop getting better and that’s the minute all the naysayers become correct.
“So, I have to make sure I’m not content just being here, and I want to contribute to the Boston Bruins organization and their winning ways, and that’s the main reason I came here.”
Krug has been anything but content during his four-plus seasons with Boston, staying true to those words and becoming a central contributor to the Bruins back end.
As a 20-year-old, Krug debuted with the Bruins in the final days of the 2011-12 season, playing two games and registering one assist. But it wasn’t until the next season that the Livonia, Mich., native truly burst onto the scene.
Krug was called up for the 2013 Eastern Conference semifinals against the New York Rangers, following injuries to fellow blue liners Dennis Seidenberg, Andrew Ference, and Wade Redden. Krug was immense, tallying four goals and one assist as the Bruins won the series in five games.
“There are a few moments that stick out to me that I realized that I had made it,” Krug said this week. “The New York Rangers series when I got called up, I was fortunate enough to score some goals to really help my team advance to the next series.
“It was a special thing for me to debut in that highly intensified situation, where it’s a playoff series, you really don’t have that much time to think. The only thing that matters is winning. I think ultimately the playoffs bring out the best in players and the best in teams and that’s winning hockey games.
“For the most part, it helped me become a better hockey player.”
Improving his game started in the defensive zone. That series against the Rangers –which began three years ago this week – displayed Krug’s enormous offensive abilities.
But there was much work to do in his own end.
“On the ice I’ve changed in a lot of ways,” said Krug, who this year tallied a career-high 44 points, to go along with a plus-9 rating, in 81 games.
“I’ve grown defensively, my defensive game from Day 1 wasn’t ready for the National Hockey League. Now I consider myself a top-four defenseman, very capable of handling those things.
“I think I’ve definitely grown and matured, probably at that time I was more of just an offensive threat and not very trustworthy in the D-zone and now I consider myself an all-around player trying to take another step forward.”
He is also now considered a veteran, someone who is relied upon by both the coaching staff and his teammates, particularly the younger ones, as someone they can depend on both on and off the ice.
“It’s weird hearing the word veteran, but I’m coming into my fourth [full] season,” said Krug. “A lot of younger guys probably look up to my story. The fact that I was a free agent, kind of went into things trying to prove people wrong. I was able to do so and will continue to do that to make myself special and unique.
“I just think any time you can help another guy do that is definitely beneficial.”
Krug, however, is not quite finished grooming his own game. There is still a lot of hockey to be played for the 25-year-old.
And fortunately for him – and the Bruins – he has plenty to spur him on.
“[The doubters were] the motivation, the fuel that drove me to train the way that I do and become the player that I am today,” said Krug.
“For me, it’s not over. There will always be people that say I’m too small. There’s always guys, whether it’s GMs or fans or scouts, there’s always going to be some doubters.
“I’m always trying to prove those people wrong.”
The 2016 Boston Bruins Development Camp, presented by AT&T, will take place from July 12-15, at Ristuccia Arena in Wilmington, Mass. All on-ice sessions are open to the public, with the camp’s roster to be announced at a later date. For the latest information on current Bruins prospects, bookmark BostonBruins.com/prospects.