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Bruins: Krejci could not endure the rigors of another season

But even through it all, while Krejci tasted personal and team success, he knew he couldn’t submit to the rigors of another season.

That’s why on Monday, Krejci announced that his 16-year NHL career is over. He left the Bruins after a career in which he reached the Finals three times (2011, 2013, 2019), won the Stanley Cup once (2011), totaled 786 points (231 goals, 555 assists) in 1,032 games and accumulated countless memories and friends.

Him too : Krejci, the quiet force of the Bruins

“The decision was made when I started getting hurt at the end of the season, but I didn’t want to rush my decision,” Krejci said Tuesday from his home in South Carolina. “I wanted to take my time and really think about it because you don’t want to make a decision when emotions are still running high.

“I realize that there is never a positive time to leave the NHL, but I think it was time. I know my body could not endure 82 games. It was the right decision. »

In addition, the retirement of Patrice Bergeron, who announced his decision on July 25 after 19 campaigns with the Bruins, and it is the end of an era in Boston, at the end of a decade and a half where the team never had to worry about. its depth in the middle.

Krejci and Bergeron were the cornerstones of the Bruins’ roster, two players who passed the 1,000-game milestone with the organization and pushed themselves to outdo themselves every day.

Krejci said: “I was trying to get to the same level as Bergy every year, trying to be as positive as he is or as positive as I can. Not only on the ice, but also with the professionalism he shows on the ice. I know I would never match him, but watching him and seeing his work ethic makes me a better player.

“He pushed me to push myself over the summer. I take great pride in my summer training every year. This is largely thanks to Bergy, because I know how hard it works. I knew I had to work as hard to be in the same position as him and to be able to help the team be successful as a number one and two center player. »

And successfully, they had it together. The Bruins made the playoffs in 13 of Krejci’s 15 seasons, only missing them in 2015 and 2016. Ultimately, that’s all that mattered to Krejci, who thought both being the first center and the spotlight shone more often about Bergeron than about him.

“I never cared if I was first or second center, as long as I wasn’t third center,” Krejci said.

“Bergy and I had a positive relationship and healthy competition,” he added. I can’t say I’ve ever been jealous. And I don’t think he was ever jealous of me. Our duo worked well. I tried to be the best version of myself. He was trying to be the best version of himself and we were pushing each other in a healthy way. »

Video: MTL@BOS: Krejci rounds Allen to make it 4-2

But eventually, age caught up with the 37-year-old.

Before the start of the 2022-23 season, Krejci wasn’t sure if this would be his last run. He did not know what to expect after a year away from the NHL, with his wife and two children living in North Carolina with a body in his late thirties.

And for most of the season, everything went well. Krejci had 56 points (16 goals, 40 assists) in 70 games as the Bruins cruised to NHL records for wins (65) and points (135).

But a lower body injury suffered on April 1 kept him out of the last six games of the regular season. He returned for Games 1 and 2 of the first-round series against the Florida Panthers, but missed Games 3 through 5 with an upper-body injury. He eventually returned for the final two games of the series, which Boston lost in dramatic fashion, losing in overtime in Game 7 at home.

Krejci was devastated that he could not help his team when it was most important, especially when you consider that he has always been recognized as a man for big occasions. Krejci led the NHL with 23 points (12 goals, 11 assists) in 25 playoff games when the Bruins won the Cup in 2011. He also finished first in the league with 26 points (nine goals, 17 assists) in 22 game in 2013, when Boston lost to the Chicago Blackhawks in the Finals.

Krejci said: “I gave my all to play through injuries last year and I left everything on the ice at the end. I knew that if I came back to the NHL, I would not be the same player as last year a.”

Krejci was clear: if he closes the door to play in the NHL, it remains closed for hockey.

“I’m retiring from the NHL because my body can’t withstand the rigors of a full season,” he said. There are things I should do, like surgery, and at my age, I’m not ready for that. I don’t want to do this anymore.

“But this year the world championship (2024 IIHF) is in Prague, in my city. I have never played there. So it is something that sticks in my mind. »

If he still feels the same during the holidays, Krejci said he is open to playing for a few months somewhere in Europe to optimize his fitness. But he says he won’t play a full season.

The Bruins would like the opposite. They would like to get another season from him and Bergeron, and keep the two icons for Boston’s centennial season. They would like to have another chance to win the Stanley Cup, as they should have last season.

“You dreamed of winning the Stanley Cup when you were little,” Krejci said. I was lucky enough to get there in my fourth year in the league. We had a few more chances, especially in 2019 (when the Bruins lost in seven games to the St. Louis Blues in the Finals). It would be nice to win at least twice. But it is very difficult to win this trophy. »

As for the future, Krejci said he would like to stay involved in hockey, perhaps in the scouting area. But for now, he is relaxing and spending time with his family. He worked on his golf and tennis, while learning about life without the NHL.

“It was hard because it’s something you’ve done your whole life, and all of a sudden it stops,” Krejci said. I’m sure I’ll have a hard time moving on. But that’s why I have family and friends. »

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