The Boston Bruins didn't sign a top-tier center in free agency to fill David Krejci's void. Perhaps that's because they're not ruling out Krejci's return.
The 35-year-old forward recently announced he's leaving the Bruins to finish his playing career in his native Czech Republic. During a recent interview with TSN 1200 in Ottawa, B's head coach Bruce Cassidy shared Krejci's explanation for his decision.
"(Krejci) came to us at the end of the year. He was very upfront about it,” Cassidy said. “He has two young kids, and his wife is American, but he hasn’t seen his parents in a long time or his brother. So he said, ‘Listen, I’m going home and it may extend into the season.’ He kind of left it at that, then he met with (general manager Don Sweeney) a month later and decided he was going to follow through on that."
Cassidy said that Krejci wanted his kids to "get to know his family" and "try to learn the language" of his home country. But the Bruins coach also added that Krejci "did not close the door on returning" to the NHL.
"I don’t know if that’ll happen or when it’ll happen at all," Cassidy said. "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 will have satisfied what he needs to do. Or maybe not, right?
"So 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."
Sweeney has adopted a similar stance, calling Krejci's situation "open-ended." So, it sounds like the team is at least somewhat optimistic the 15-year veteran could join the Bruins at some point during the season.
Krejci's return would be a huge boost for Boston: His 36 assists last season ranked second on the team, and he helped elevate the play of Taylor Hall and Craig Smith on the second line.
The B's shouldn't bank on his return, though, so the spotlight will be on potential internal replacements for Krejci when the regular season begins.