By Andrew Bluestein | Follow Me On Twitter @adbblue
David Krejci was born in Sternberk Czekia April 28th, 1986. Eighteen years later, he was selected in the second round, 63rd overall, by the Boston Bruins in the 2004 NHL draft. Two years later, he would make his NHL debut for Boston, which was just the beginning.
Krejci decided to play his junior hockey in North America for the Gatineau Olympiques of the QMJHL after being drafted by Boston, which was a rarity at the time for Czech-born players. After putting up great numbers in the Q, scouts saw Krejci as a young talented offensive player, but being a late second-round pick, not many could have predicted the career he would go on to have.
The right-shot center would join the Bruins Organization for the 2006-07 season. He played in 69 games for AHL affiliate Providence where he lit it up, posting 31 goals and 43 assists for 74 points. His strong play earned him a call-up to Boston, but Krejci’s NHL career started with an immediate setback.
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In his first NHL game on January 30th, 2007, in Buffalo, Krejci took a hit from Sabres forward Adam Mair, which gave him a concussion after recording only 2:07 of ice time in his debut. This resulted in him missing time and only playing six games for Boston that season. The following season Krejci would again start in Providence, but after recording 28 points in 25 games, he would get called back up to Boston and never turned back.
In the 2008-09 season, Krejci started getting Bruins fans’ attention. He tallied 22 goals and 51 assists for 73 points and would go on to win the Seventh Player award, which is ultimately decided by the fans. The Bruins would finish as the top seed in the Eastern Conference that season but would lose in overtime of game seven against the Carolina Hurricanes in the second round.
In the 2009-10 season, Krejci’s point production fell off slightly, but that had more to do with the team’s defensive style of play. The 6 ‘0 Czech center was still a huge part of the team’s offense, and after game three in the second round of the playoffs against the Philadelphia Flyers, it was beyond apparent. Krejci took an open-ice hit from Flyers forward Mike Richards and broke his wrist on impact. He missed the rest of the series, and the Bruins blew a three games to none lead. Krejci’s injury was instrumental to the Bruins’ collapse, as they had lost arguably their best offensive player.
The 2010-11 season was a far different story. This is the Season where Krejci took a big leap and started to earn recognition as not just one of the Bruin’s most dangerous players but one of the leagues as well. Playing on a line with Nathan Horton and Milan Lucic propelled Krejci, and his offensive ability and creativity showed more than ever to that point. The postseason that year was when Krejci solidified his name on the map as he was the playoffs leading scorer with 12 goals and 11 assists for 23 points. The Bruins would go on to hoist the Stanley Cup beating the Vancouver Canucks in seven games. If not for goaltender Tim Thomas’s legendary performance, Krejci would have undoubtedly won the Conn Smythe.
The Krejci train would keep chugging from that point on as he continued to be one of the league’s most creative and intelligent players. In the 2013 playoffs, the Bruins would again make a run for the Cup but fell short, losing in the Final to the Chicago Blackhawks in 6 games. But Krejci again dominated and led all players in scoring throughout the playoffs with nine goals and 17 assists for 26 points. This earned him the nickname “Playoff Krejci” among Boston fans.
As the seasons went on, the former second-round pick would be the example of consistency around the league with his point production and his full 200-foot game. It was very rare you would see Krejci make a mistake on the ice, and if he did, he would almost always make up for it. He would get one last chance to play in the Stanley Cup Final in 2019 but again fell short, losing to the St. Louis Blues in seven games after another impressive playoff performance.
After taking a hiatus in the 2021-22 season when he returned to his native Czechia to play in the Czech league, he returned to the Bruins for one last ride in the 2022-23 season. He would reach 1,000 NHL games played and be honored in a pre-game ceremony on February 20th against the Ottawa Senators. Unsurprisingly, he played an instrumental part in the team’s success and would become the greatest regular season team in NHL history.
Krejci announced his retirement from hockey on Monday, August 14th, after an incredible and underappreciated career. He was never the loudest guy, the fastest guy, or the toughest guy, which is in large part why he never received the recognition he deserved. But he was a special type of hockey player that many people failed to understand the rarity of. He could manipulate time and space on the ice, and you could see the game slow down when he had the puck on his stick.
Very few players in NHL history were able to do that the way that David Krejci did. It was as if he was a magician on the ice, made plays that seemingly no one else in the league could make, and never got enough credit for it. The way he was able to see the game is something that hockey fans may never witness again, especially with how much the game has changed. David Krejci is without a doubt, one of the most unique hockey players to ever step on the ice, and now that he’s retired, it’s time he gets the recognition he deserves for it.