Just as all his NHL brethren are right now, Boston Bruins defenseman Torey Krug is wondering if and when the NHL will return after pausing the 2019-20 season almost a month ago on March 12. Krug, however, is in a bit of a different boat than most NHLers except for the fraction of players who are slated to become unrestricted free agents on July 1. In a Zoom conference call with the media Tuesday, Krug told reporters that he and the Bruins have not had any new contract talks since the season paused and he’s starting to wonder if he will ever put on the spoked B again.
“For me personally, I really hope I did not play my last game as a Boston Bruin,” said Krug who has reiterated more than once that he’d like to sign a long-term extension with the Bruins. “It’s been a special place for me and my family to grow. My love for the game and playing in front of these fans has been very special to me. But [this situation] hasn’t given me any clarity. It makes you wonder about this process a little more because I was just in the moment thinking only about helping my team win games and hopefully push our team toward winning a championship.”
While Krug has paid close attention as the NHL and NHLPA continue to banter around ideas to at least save the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs, he’s also begun to contemplate how a now lowering salary cap will affect his contract situation. With nine goals and 40 assists in 61 games this season, Krug already had his fifth straight season with 40 or more helpers and was about to have his fourth straight season with 50 points or more when the season paused. Many NHL insiders were expecting him to hit paydirt should he hit the open market in July but now that, along with his future with a cap-strapped Bruins team are up in the air.
“The season is on pause and I’m definitely wondering what’s going to happen,” Krug admitted. “But in terms of clarity, there pretty much has been none. I can’t put any assumptions on it, but I can only guess that things are going to look different from a salary cap perspective next season. Team structures as well are going to be affected by it, but I have no clarity about it. I wish I had a better answer for that, but it’s just the reality of the situation.”
As for a potential summer return that would go straight into the playoffs, Krug is all for it but just as most NHLers are, he’s concerned about the safety risks of jumping headfirst into the most intense pro sports playoff tournament there is. If the league does this, Krug believes it’s essential that they take the proper time off between the playoffs and the start of the 2020-21 season. He also would prefer that the playoff set up isn’t altered too much.
“Player safety keeps coming up when I talk to guys around the league. … I think you do go and finish the playoffs this summer, you’re going to need a little more time off,” said Krug. “As long as everyone’s in a situation where the playing field is level and we’re able to compete for a Stanley Cup, that’s our ultimate goal.”
Throughout the call though, Krug continually stressed that right now, with Coronavirus cases and deaths rising as the United States is in its surge period, all of the above play second fiddle to what matters most.
“Look, we all want to get back to playing and I think, as hockey players, most people probably feel a little bit lost in this situation,” he said. “But I think first and foremost, we have to park that and put that aside and realize that there’s something bigger here.”