There has been plenty of speculation on when Boston Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney knew for sure that longtime center David Krejci was not going to return to the Boston Bruins for at least part of the 2021-22 NHL regular season.
Speaking in a radio interview Tuesday on TSN 1200 in his native city of Ottawa, Boston Bruins head coach shed a little more light on the time frame of Krejci’s decision-making process.
“He came to us at the end of the year and he was very upfront with us,” Cassidy said of Krejci’s decision. “He’s got two young kids. His wife is American but he hasn’t seen his parents in a long long time or his brother. So, he said ‘Listen, I’m going home and it may extend into the season.
So, he kind of left it at that and obviously met with Donny a month later and decided that he was going to follow through on that. So, he’s going to play in his own country; his kids are young and he wants them to get to know his family and try to learn the language, et cetera. Those things are very important to him and we support him 100-percent in that.”
Based on that, Sweeney and his Boston Bruins staff knew there was a very strong possibility that Krejci, 35, was headed back to his native Czech Republic for an extended stay that could become a permanent one. Or as Cassidy reminded TSN 1200 Morning hosts Shawn Simpson, Lee Versage, and Matt Hamer, (and as Don Sweeney told the media last week), Krejci still could lace em up for the Boston Bruins this coming season.
“He did not close the door on returning back,” Cassidy pointed out. “I don’t know if that will happen or when it will happen at all, but he didn’t say I’m retiring and done from the National Hockey League. So, that’s good news for us in the sense that maybe in a couple of months, he’ll feel satisfied with what he needed to do, or maybe not.”
As Cassidy also pointed out, rather than tie their cap space up in just one player to fill the second line center void Krejci left behind, Sweeney decided to go the depth route for the 2021-22 Boston Bruins. On the opening day of unrestricted free agency, Sweeney went on a spending spree and signed three new forwards that can all play center and wing. Veteran forwards Nick Foligno, Erik Haula, and Tomas Nosek will be part of a bottom-nine center committee that will also include Charlie Coyle and Jack Studnicka.
“So we’re going to go about our business. Donny signed some free agents; we added some depth,” Cassidy went on. “We have a good young player in Studnicka; Charlie Coyle could move up. So we’ll see where we can fill that hole and see where David’s at a little later here in the season.”
As for Krejci and the Boston Bruins, there are no hard feelings, and the immense respect Cassidy, the Bruins, and Krejci hold for each other will always remain intact.
“We’ll miss him as a guy,” Cassidy said acknowledging the respect Krejci had from his teammates and peers. “He was a great guy, great teammate, very quiet. Kind of dis it under the radar; great playoff performer. …but that’s hockey. We’ve moved on from a few guys that have been around the last couple of years here and you just have to go on and keep building your roster. Circle of life so to speak. Bring in the new guys, identify their place and give them more responsibility and just try to keep winning.”