The Bruins seemed optimistic that David Krejci could return to Boston at some point this upcoming season. According to Krejci, that optimism is misplaced.
The veteran center held an introductory press conference Monday with HC Olomouc, a club team in the Czech Repulbic's Extraliga that signed him to a one-year contract. And it sounds like he plans to honor that contract.
"I will stay in Olomouc all season,” Krejci said in his press conference, via HC Olomouc's website (translated from Czech to English). "I signed a one-year contract. I’m not dealing with what’s next at all at the moment, but returning to Boston in the spring is definitely not in the game."
A free agent after the 2020-21 season, Krejci announced on social media he was leaving the NHL to finish his hockey career in his native Czech Republic, where he still has family. According to Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy, though, Krejci didn't tell the team he was done with NHL hockey and left the impression that he could return stateside later in the season.
"(He) did not close the door on returning," Cassidy said during a radio interview earlier this month. "... We’re going to go about our business. ... We’ll see how we can fill that hole and see where David is at later in the season."
Bruins general manager Don Sweeney also called Krejci's situation "open-ended," admitting the Bruins were "wondering whether or not he may return at some point in time."
It's possible Krejci came to a more firm decision about staying in the Czech Republic since he last talked with the Bruins. He also didn't rule out an NHL return after his HC Olomouc contract expires next season. But Boston shouldn't bank on the 35-year-old wearing Black and Gold this season.
Charlie Coyle is the likely candidate to replace Krejci as the Bruins' second-line center, but he'll have big shoes to fill: Krejci ranked second on the team in assists last season with 36 and has been one of Boston's most consistent playmakers over the last 15 seasons.