BOLTON — After a season of terrible moments, David Krejci had one of the best moments of his life when he and his wife recently welcomed their first child to their family. As far as hockey goes, he should hope he doesn’t have to go to another hospital for a while.
Krejci, who had previously never missed more than seven games in a regular season in his entire professional career, had a highly frustrating go of it last season. After fighting nagging lower-body injuries through the first few months of the season, Krejci suffered a partially torn MCL in late February. All in all, Krejci missed 35 games in a season that saw Boston’s offense suffer without him.
Now, after an extra-long offseason that saw him lose his running buddy of his five-year tenure as a first-line center in Milan Lucic, Krejci hopes to return to both the health and performance of seasons past. He said prior to Monday’s Bruins golf tournament that his workouts were not encumbered this offseason, so he sees no reason why things wouldn’t get back on track.
“Last year was the first year in my career that I had [ongoing] injury troubles,” Krejci said. “I’ve been working out since pretty much the season ended and have had no setbacks. I’m shooting for 82 games, so we’ll see what happens.”
With whom Krejci plays those games is wide open. It’s safe to assume the Bruins will plan on free agent signing Matt Beleskey filling Lucic’s spot, but there’s no telling whether it will be David Pastrnak, Brett Connolly, Jimmy Hayes or somebody else on the right side. Loui Eriksson could potentially be an option, though he’ll likely be moved to left wing this season given Boston’s number of right-shot wings.
Krejci’s had some different right wings since 2010-11, from Nathan Horton to Rich Peverley to Jarome Iginla to a revolving door of players (Seth Griffith, Simon Gagne and Pastrnak among them) last season. He’s used to change on the right side, but losing his longtime left wing in Lucic, now with the Kings, will present new challenges.
“It’s going to be weird,” he said. “We’ve been together for a long time, and now he’s gone, so obviously that was a really sad day. We have to understand that it’s a business as well and there were some upper-management changes. They’re just trying to make our team better than last year, and they did some changes. I really like the we have right now, so we’ll see how that goes.”
The good news for Krejci is that he signed a contract extension prior to the start of last season. Last season was the final year of his contract, so rather than hitting free agency after injuries, he at least has the security of a new six-year deal. With that comes pressure to live up to the $43.5 million he’ll be making.
Last season was bad for pretty much everyone on the Bruins, injured or healthy. The teamwide dropoff in shooting percentage suggests the B’s will get back to scoring as long as they don’t have two consecutive seasons of wretched luck. Having Krejci back will undoubtedly help as well.
“It’s definitely something that you can’t replace,” Patrice Bergeron said. “He’s a player that is so important to our club. To have him fresh and healthy is something we’re going to a lot from. I’m really happy to have him and happy he feels good.”