BRIGHTON, Mass – Boston Bruins winger Taylor Hall is quick to admit there never any guarantees that David Krejci was returning to the B’s when he signed his four-year, $24 million contract with the B’s over the summer.
Certainly the 29-year-old winger couldn’t help but envision continuing to build on the chemistry he’d built with Krejci at the end of last season while posting eight goals and 14 points in 16 games, a play finisher and a playmaker just naturally complimenting each other. But instead Krejci opted to head home to the Czech Republic playing for Olomouc while introducing his Americanized family to the Czech culture he left behind for the NHL almost 20 years ago.
It’s something that Hall really didn’t blame Krejci for one bit when asked about it following Friday’s Boston Bruins captain’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena.
“I developed a really good relationship with a lot of guys. Everybody speaks the same language here and is committed to getting better every day. I hung out a lot with [Craig Smith] and Krejci and Pasta last year. I have a lot of respect for Krejci,” said Hall. “It would have been nice to see him back here this year, but he’s a guy that I learned from in the 25-30 games that I played with him last year,” said Krejci. “[Krejci’s absence] doesn’t really change my focus or preparation for the year. In signing here, I never had a guarantee that Krejci was going to be back.
“I just wanted to play for this team and help this team win a Stanley Cup at the end of the day. Krejci did it for the right reasons, and you support him as a friend. I had no idea what he was going to do, and I didn’t even really want to ask him about it, or even tell him what I was going to do. I wanted him to come back for the right reasons if that’s what he was going to do. I think, for him, he’s probably having a blast playing back home. I have no idea what it’s like moving away to a different continent at 16 or 17 and then never coming back [home] to play there. I’m sure he’s having a blast. I don’t know if we’ll ever see him back here again. I know there’s a lot of speculation about it, but I think everybody in our dressing room wishes him all the best.”
Krejci has appropriately been tearing it up playing for his Czech hockey team, of course, and it absolutely does look like “he’s having a blast.”
Olomouc fans serenading David Krejci and chanting his name after his second goal of the game. So cool to see him treated like an absolute rockstar over in Czech Republic pic.twitter.com/ekgMxexibu
— Spoked Z (@SpokedZ) September 14, 2021
But Krejci’s departure has left the Bruins with something of a “No. 2 center by committee” situation with Charlie Coyle holding the inside track as Hall’s new center. It remains to be seen if it will be Coyle, or 22-year-old youngster Jack Studnicka, or somebody else entirely, that will end up serving as Krejci’s replacement somewhere down the line.
Whatever the case, Hall said he’s ready to step in and drive the line from the left wing position as he did a few seasons ago in New Jersey when he posted 39 goals and 93 points during a Hart Trophy season for the Devils.
“My job is to come in and play as well as I can. Whatever line I’m slotted in on, hopefully I can drive that line like I have in the past,” said Hall. “Whoever the center is, I’d imagine that it will be Smitty on the right side. I think that we can work with anyone.”
Clearly there will be a lot of eyes at Boston Bruins training camp watching how the chemistry develops on the second line, and there will be a dependency on Hall to lead the way offensively regardless of his center. It sounds like the 29-year-old winger will be up to the task even if it’s with a different guy than he envisioned at the conclusion of last season for the Black and Gold.