Boston Bruins: Losing David Krejci could be the final nail in the coffin

David Krejci #46 of the Boston Bruins (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
David Krejci #46 of the Boston Bruins (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) /

It’s been quite a hectic time in the world of Boston sports. With the Boston Red Sox continuing their unexpected success, the New England Patriots starting training camp, and the Boston Celtics making a number of trades to kick off the offseason, there have been a ton of big headlines to go around. With all that in mind, it seems that David Krejci‘s retirement from the NHL, and the Boston Bruins, has flown under the radar.

Krejci officially announced his retirement from the NHL four days ago, saying that he and his family will be moving back to his native Czech Republic where he will finish off his career. It feels as if this devastating loss for the Bruins hasn’t gotten the attention it deserved.

Krejci spent his entire 15 year career in Boston, and developed a reputation as one of the best second line centers in the league. Heck, he probably could have been a first line player on most of the other teams in the league, but he opted to be the creative spark that Boston relied on behind Patrice Bergeron and their top line.

And for the first time in 15 years, Boston has quite a large hole to fill on their second line. Just as they get Krejci a solid pairing on the second line with Taylor Hall and Craig Smith, he unfortunately opted to retire. After already having spent most of their available funds in free agency, Boston is going to have to scramble to figure out a way to replace Krejci.

Why losing David Krejci is such a blow for the Boston Bruins

Krejci’s departure stings for a number of reasons, particularly the fact that it looked like he finally was going to get a decent pair of linemates for the first time in awhile. You can make a case that Krejci was Boston’s most important player in recent seasons. When their top line struggled to create chances, Krejci was relied upon to take the burden off of them, which he often was capable of doing.

Krejci was always more of a pass first player than a shooter. Aside from the 2006-07 season when he played just six games, Krejci had at least 20 assists every season he played. That’s not to say he couldn’t score though, as he passed the 20 goal mark four times in his career too.

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Krejci really did the most damage in playoffs however. With opposing defenses focused on stopping the top line, Krejci was allowed the freedom to control the chance creation from the second line. His 23 points during the 2011 Stanley Cup run led the league, and immortalized him as “Playoff Krech” in Bruins history.

Krejci was equally impressive in the Bruins other two runs to the Stanley Cup Finals. His 2013 playoff performance was arguably his most impressive, as he finished with 23 points again, but in just 22 games (compared to 25 the previous occasion). Krejci wasn’t as good in 2019, but his 16 points,12 of which were assists, proved just how important he was to keeping the Bruins offense ticking.

And now he’s gone. For years the Boston Bruins second line could be counted on for production merely because Krejci’s name was attached to it. Despite lining up alongside struggling wingers at times, Krejci never let it affect his game, which a lot of other players around the league can’t say for themselves.

The Bruins needed Krejci to return for next season. So often they had been able to replace the wingers alongside him, but now they are forced to replace the center for the wingers. Given their cap limitations, it’s going to be a tall task.

The silver lining in the situation is that the second line finally has some decent wingers. Hall looked like a splendid fit during his second half run with the team, and Smith was often the beneficiary of Krejci’s work. Whoever lines up in between the two will be in good hands, it’s just a shame it won’t be Krejci.

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It’s been well established that the Bruins are running out of time to win another Stanley Cup with this core. Bergeron and Brad Marchand are still running strong, but with each year they fail to win, it’s going to be more difficult to win it next year. Losing Krejci only proves that point. And it may not even end there, as Tuukka Rask could be gone soon too.

The Boston Bruins took quite the gut punch with Krejci announcing his retirement, and it ultimately may be the one that knocks them out of the fight. They always knew they could count on the second line for production, but that’s far from a certainty now. Fans have been wondering when time would run out for the Bruins, and it may have just happened when no one was paying attention.