By Gayle Troiani | Follow Me on Twitter @LadyBruinsFan
When David Krejci opted to retire from the Bruins after 14 years and return to the Czech Republic, fans were praying he would return when his season was over, just in time for the Stanley Cup playoffs.
It didn’t happen, and the Bruins were eliminated from the postseason in the first round, leaving fans to ponder what could have been if Krejci had stayed.
After winning the Stanley Cup in 2001, Krejci saw a turnstile of players in his line over the years. There was never consistency once Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton departed Boston.
Then it happened.
Krejci formed amazing chemistry with Right Wing David Pasternak. But still, there was a void on the left-wing.
Eventually, Bruce Cassidy broke up Krejci and Pastrnak by having Pastrnak skate on the top line with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand.
The line of Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak was undoubtedly successful, even coined the “Perfection Line” by many media types, but without two consistent wings, Krejci suffered.
Fans rejoiced when GM Don Sweeney traded for Taylor Hall. Finally, a left-wing to play with Krejci. But again, Krejci had a turnstile of players when he didn’t have a consistent right-wing, and the Bruins were pretty stagnant with only one powerhouse line.
After Krejci’s departure, Jake DeBrusk asked for a trade out of Boston due to his unhappiness with being scratched and limited ice time.
Ironically later in the season, Cassidy swapped out Pastrnak and DeBrusk on their respective lines. Fans began to wonder if Cassidy was gently pushed in that direction or if he saw that the change was needed.
Regardless of whose decision it was, it worked. Erik Haula centered Hall and Pastrnak, and DeBrusk stayed with Bergeron and Marchand.
After the first-round exit, Pastrnak reunited with Krejci playing in the 2022 IIHF World Championships. The two helped the Czech Republic defeat the United States for the bronze medal.
Seeing the former teammates feeding off each other in the tournament had fans on social media begging for Krejci’s return to Boston.
Pastrnak heard the cries from the fans and tried to get the answer.
Fast forward to the present day, Cassidy is no longer the bench boss in Boston, DeBrusk has rescinded his trade request, and though not confirmed, Bergeron will return for one year.
We may never know if Krejci’s decision to leave had anything to do with not having consistent linemates or if he wanted to play with Pastrnak and Cassidy refused, but could we see Krejci put on the Bruin sweater for one more season?
There’s been speculation that it is possible. But if he does return, would it help the Bruins or stunt future growth?
In a word, helps.
Krejci may not be the high scoring forward that Pastrnak or Marchand is, but he elevates the players around him with his matrix-style skating that often drives defenses crazy.
The powerplay could also benefit from his playmaking.
Often the quarterback of one of the powerplay units, Krejci would draw defensemen towards him, opening the ice for Pastrnak, Marchand, or Bergeron.
Krejci has also consistently performed in the postseason, often referred to as “Playoff Krejci” based on the offensive numbers he’s put up throughout the years.
In 156 postseason games, Krejci has registered 124 points (42 goals and 82 assists). It’s hard not to pinpoint the collapse against the Flyers in 2010 in correlation with Krejci being injured in the series and unable to play. Philadelphia made their epic comeback, beating the Bruins in the Eastern Conference Final after being on the brink of elimination, down three games to zero.
Why not bring Krejci back? It couldn’t hurt. It would help in several areas and even take pressure off of Haula. Fans have complained the Bruins need a second-line center. Krejci is just that.
Sweeney addressed the media before the draft and stated the lines of communication were open.
You would have to believe that if Krejci returned to the Bruins, Sweeney would structure the deal more based on bonus incentives than on a high-paying base salary. It might even allow Sweeney to move either Haula or Charlie Coyle, which would help with the salary cap. It’s a win-win. The Bruins get their second-line center, and the fans have something to praise Sweeney for.