The Boston Bruins are still taking the Motel 6 approach with Tuukka Rask and David Krejci and leaving the light on for a potential return of one or both of the longtime Bruins to their lineup this season.
For the first time since the 2009-10 NHL regular season, the Boston Bruins opening night roster will not include Rask and Krejci when they take on the Dallas Stars Saturday night at TD Garden and kick off the 2021-22 regular season. Speaking to the media via Zoom on Wednesday, the Boston Bruins team President made it clear, that this is not quite yet the start of the post-Rask and Krejci era in Boston.
“The door is open,” Neely said once again when asked if Rask and Krejci returning were still in the cards. “We’ll see what happens. Tuukka’s going through his rehab process and we’ll see where that takes him. We told them both that the door is open if they do decide to come back and then we’ll see where it goes from there, but that remains to be seen for both of them. It really depends on where they’re at both mentally and physically; and from David Krejci’s perspective, if he has an interest in coming back and leaving. I know the family situation was very important for him, and rightfully so, so we’ll see where it goes.”
Rask, 34 and an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his career, is rehabbing from offseason hip surgery now and has repeatedly made it clear that if he chooses to resume his NHL career when he’s cleared to play, he will only play for the Boston Bruins.
“I think, I played on one team when I was in Finland and I’ve been so lucky to be part of one team in the NHL,” Rask said back in August. “For me, it’s about that pride of playing for one team and one team only. I have no reason to chase the money anymore and go somewhere else. I feel the Bruins are my home, Boston is my home and I’ve always wanted to play here, wanted to stay here. The money won’t be an issue.
We had a conversation with ‘Sweens’ [Bruins GM Don Sweeney] and I said I’d be a cheap goalie. I’m not looking for a $7 million contract anymore, I’m at the end of my career. I’d just like to help the team out. I feel like I’m a veteran goalie and there’s some young guys coming in, so whatever I can do to help the guys out, I would do it and end my career as a Bruin.”
That could be a much easier process than Krejci returning because, unlike Rask, Krejci is playing pro hockey in the Czech League for his hometown team, HC Olomuc. Due to that, Krejci will have to clear through waivers to return to the NHL. Krejci, 35, also seems more inclined to stay in the Czech League and retire there.
“I have a contract for the season that I want to fulfill. I don’t plan to return (to the NHL) during the season,” Krejci said his introductory press conference with HC Olomouc. “I am happy to be here, and I am very much looking forward to what the season will bring.”