David Krejci was 28 years old in 2014, at the peak of his powers, basking in the glow of a new six-year, $43 million deal, envisioning how his career with the Bruins would play out, and even considering the possibility of going back to his homeland of the Czech Republic to finish his career after he accomplished all of his goals in the NHL.
Seven years later, a future that seemed so distant is now right in front of him.
The Bruins’ second-round loss to the Islanders has Krejci reflecting on not just the season but his entire 15-year run with the Bruins and what might be next for the 35-year-old center, whose contract expired at the end of the season.
He said he’ll take his time and weigh all the factors. He wants to stay in Boston, the only city he’s known in his pro career, but a part of him still dreams of going back home.
“You guys write a lot that I always wanted to play in Czech, finish my career in Czech, which has not changed,” Krejci said. “But when I said that, I was younger. Now I’m a husband, I have two kids, they’re getting older. So yes, I still, at one point, would like to finish my career in Czech but for different reasons now than when I first said it.
“I would like my kids to speak my language, because my parents don’t speak any English. My kids don’t speak Czech. So I would like them to learn my language.
“But again, when that’s going to happen — or if that’s going to happen — we’ll see next. I’m going to try to get away from the game for a little bit now and think about lots of things, spend some time with my family, and just go from there.”
Krejci said he’s been thinking about his future in Boston all season and now must give it deeper thought. He made it clear a year ago that he had no plans of retiring once this deal was up.
“I’m going to need a few weeks,” Krejci said. “Think about lots of things, talk to lots of people. I love Boston.”
Krejci said he and the Bruins front office never discussed an extension during the season because he was focused on making a playoff run.
“It wasn’t because of anything else,” Krejci said. “It was just I want to focus on my game.”
He said it would be difficult to see himself lured away from Boston by a more lucrative deal.
“I can tell you it’s not going to be about money,” he said. “And at the same time, I just can’t see myself playing for a different team.
“But we’ll see what happens. I talked to my parents and they asked me and I can’t even give them a straight answer. I just don’t know.”
Hall seeking stability
From the time Taylor Hall arrived at the trade deadline, he made it known that he saw Boston as a long-term landing spot and not just a short stay.
It is hard for Hall to gauge the season he had after scoring just two goals in 37 games with Buffalo, then giving the Bruins eight goals and six assists in 16 regular-season games along with three goals and two assists in the playoffs. But the 29-year-old winger felt Boston was the fit he had been looking for after bouncing around the past two years.
“I don’t even know what my value is at this point,” Hall said. “I feel like I had two different seasons. I’m not looking to absolutely maximize my value at this point. In my career, I’ve been fortunate enough to make some good money in this league. And at this point, it’s about more of a fit for me than money or a long-term thing. I just want to find a home for the next few years here.”
Since winning the Hart Trophy as NHL MVP with the Devils in 2018, Hall has played for three teams, and the instability — along with the turbulence of playing during the COVID-19 pandemic — takes a toll.
“Last year, I had three coaches; this year I had three different coaches,” Hall said. “It’s been a lot. I’m looking forward to hopefully staying put, putting down some roots, getting some normalcy to our season, having fans back. All these things are really important just as a person.
“I didn’t want to have time off this early, but certainly a mental break is always good for anyone. So we’ll enjoy that.”
Hall plans to stay around Boston for at least a few weeks. He and his girlfriend enjoy the city.
“We’ll let the dust settle on everything this year,” Hall said. “I’m sure they have a lot of stuff going on and some other guys that have been here longer than me that they have to have to worry about and then we’ll figure that out.
“But hopefully, we can make something work. That’s obviously my goal. Hopefully, we can make that happen.”
A time to recharge
For the first time in two years, the Bruins expect to have something close to a normal offseason. After playing in the bubble last year, they dealt with their share of COVID-related issues this season — including a shutdown in March — but managed to reach the playoffs for the fifth straight season.
Captain Patrice Bergeron said it’s a good opportunity to finally recharge.
“It’s been a challenging year,” Bergeron said. “And on many levels, for everyone really, but for us with all the restrictions and protocols and everything, it was a different year. It wasn’t as smooth as usual and there was a lot of things that we had to think about and worry about as well.
“So I think I am obviously just like everyone else, looking forward to a normal summer or close to it, and yet kind of recharge and get ready for next season, which hopefully should be back to normal.”
Julian Benbow can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.