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David Krejci, brilliant playmaker and clutch playoff performer, retires after 16 seasons with Bruins

David Krejci ranks fifth in franchise history with 555 assists, and his 786 points are ninth.Barry Chin/Globe Staff

For the second time this summer, the Bruins are bidding adieu to one of their cornerstone players of the last two decades.

David Krejci announced his retirement Monday morning, following in the strides of Patrice Bergeron, who retired in July.

“After 15 full NHL seasons I have decided to retire from the best league in the world,” Krejci, 37, wrote on the Bruins social media accounts. “I would like to take this opportunity to thank Cam Neely and Don Sweeney for allowing me to take my time with my decision and announcement.

“I also want to thank the Jacobs family and the entire Bruins organization for believing in me over and over again and giving me the opportunity to be part of this amazing family for so many years.”

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A crafty and clutch centerman through his 16-year run in Boston, Krejci will be remembered best for his pretty playmaking and his ability to elevate his game in the biggest moments. He twice led the NHL in postseason scoring and trails only Bergeron in franchise playoff scoring, collecting 48 goals and 128 points in 160 games.

His résumé is loaded with accomplishments, including his performances during the playoff runs of 2011 when the Bruins beat the Canucks to win the Stanley Cup and 2013 when they lost in the Finals to the Blackhawks.

In the Cup-winning season, Krejci — affectionately known as “Playoff Krech” around the locker room — had 12 goals and 23 points in 26 playoff games. In 2013, he notched nine goals and 26 points in 22 games.

“David was a special player and has been a big part of this team’s success,” wrote Neely, the Bruins president. “You just have to look at his success in the playoffs — leading the league in points twice — and his world-class playmaking ability.”

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Krejci ranks fifth on the franchise’s all-time assists list with 555. He added 231 goals in his 1,032 career games and his 786 points are ninth all-time in Bruins annals.

“David was always a big-time performer as he typically played his best hockey when the games meant the most, therefore endearing himself to his teammates and the Bruins fans,” posted Sweeney, the team’s general manager.

Following the 2020-21 season, Krejci returned to his native Czechia to play for Olomouc HC, his hometown team. He returned to Boston after a year, signing a modest one-season deal for $1 million.

Over the course of his final season, he played in his 1,000th game and in a memorable Winter Classic at Fenway Park. Krejci finished as the club’s fifth-leading scorer last season, totaling 16 goals and 56 points in 70 games.

He anchored the second line during the team’s record-setting regular season, playing with fellow Czechs David Pastrnak and Pavel Zacha.

But it was a tough ending to the season for Krejci, who missed Games 3, 4, and 5 of the first-round playoff loss to the Panthers because of an upper-body injury.

He did, however, score a goal and set up two more in a crushing overtime loss to Florida in Game 7.

In 2007, Krejci participated in the Bruins' development camp at Ristuccia Arena.Davis, Jim Globe Staff

Krejci was drafted in the second round in 2004 and played a pair of seasons with the Gatineau Olympiques of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League as he transitioned to the North American game.

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He had a forgettable NHL debut in January 2007 when he absorbed a cheap shot from Buffalo’s Adam Mair, resulting in a concussion and an abbreviated season.

He became a regular in the lineup in 2007-08 and quickly became both a fan favorite and a legitimate offensive threat. The Bruins, powered by Bergeron and Krejci on offense and anchored on defense by Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg, became an Eastern Conference power with Claude Julien behind the bench.

Krejci’s No. 46 likely will join other Bruins stalwarts in the Garden rafters, though he might have to wait a bit, as Chara (No. 33) and Bergeron (No. 37) are also in line for the honor.

“When I was drafted in 2004, I had no idea that I would be working with such incredible and driven people who would lead us to three Stanley Cup finals, and winning the ultimate goal in 2011,” Krejci wrote. “I have made so many great friendships throughout the organization. You have always been there for me whenever I needed something, and I will always be here for you.”

His playmaking was his calling card. Krejci played the game at his own pace, seeing plays and making them with sleight of hand and deft touch. He also was more durable than his reputation, his 1,032 games ranking fifth all-time among Bruins.

In his third year, as a 22-year-old in 2008-09, his 22-51—73 line and offensive brilliance began to bloom. It mirrored the rise of the Bruins as an Eastern Conference power.

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The Bruins found a way to make the playoffs two seasons ago, when Krejci departed for his homeland to fulfill a dream. He tore up the Czech league and shined on the international stage (IIHF World Champions, riding with Pastrnak). He flashed some of his old self during his final go-round in Boston.

After the Bruins were eliminated from the playoffs in 2023, Krejci and Patrice Bergeron shared a final moment together in Boston uniforms.John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

But last year was not easy. Krejci’s wife and children remained at their offseason home in South Carolina, while Krejci skated mostly with Zacha and Pastrnak in Boston. He said he was having fun, though clearly was weighted by age and the obligations of a young family.

Like Bergeron, Krejci’s 2022-23 contract was a bargain. He cost the Bruins a mere $1 million against the salary cap, with $2 million in performance bonuses. The cost will be paid next season. The Bruins moved that $2 million — and the extra $2.5 million paid to Bergeron, who earned that plus $2.5 million in salary — to their 2023-24 books, creating a league-high $4.5 million in salary-cap overages.

Krejci will speak about his decision and his career during a chat with reporters Tuesday.

Matt Porter of the Globe staff contributed to this report.


Jim McBride can be reached at james.mcbride@globe.com. Follow him @globejimmcbride.