Bruins

John Tavares chase was a fun ride for most, but not for David Krejci

John Tavares chase was a fun ride for most, but not for David Krejci

It was a pretty great offseason for David Krejci, as they usually are for NHL players. There was plenty of golf, travel and family time, and the Bruins playmaking center is expecting a baby right around the time of the Winter Classic.

But it wasn’t all rainbows, sunshine and baby gender reveal parties for the longtime Bruins pivot. In fact, things got downright uncomfortable around July 1 when the Bruins began their comprehensive attempts to woo free agent John Tavares to Boston. Nobody is going to blame Don Sweeney for trying to sign the franchise center, obviously, because he would have given Boston the kind of 20-something top center they now desperately need with both Krejci and Patrice Bergeron on the wrong side of 30 years old.

But the sight of Cam Neely and Sweeney winging it out to L.A. to meet with Tavares’ representation certainly left Krejci feeling a little uneasy about his own situation with the Black and Gold, and what exactly was going to happen to him if Boston somehow did win the Tavares sweepstakes.

“I had no idea what was going on. My agent didn’t tell my [anything] because he said he didn’t know anything. I didn’t get any phone calls from anyone from the Bruins,” said Krejci to NBC Sports Boston. “So I was just getting those Instragram messages [telling me to request a trade] in my inbox. I know that I have a no-trade so they would have to call me [if they did end up signing Tavares].

“Yeah, that wasn’t kind of something I enjoyed. But it was over pretty quick. It was a quick couple of weeks. It is what it is.”

Would Krejci have been bumped down to third line center to make room for both Bergeron and Tavares in the top-6? Would the faint rumors of Krejci on the trade block have become much louder and more substantial if Tavares was then in the fold?

One of the two above situations would have probably been a reality for the 32-year-old Krejci just based on the salary cap and the pecking order of the three centers involved. But as it would have it, the Bruins probably weren’t all that close to landing Tavares after being one of the finalists, and instead the ex-Isles star went home to Toronto and the Maple Leafs.

Still, the B’s pursuit of Tavares took its toll on Krejci and his feelings of security within the Bruins. He has a no-trade clause that controls his destiny to a point, but that still didn’t stop him from wondering what his place was while simultaneously not hearing anything from the Bruins organization.

“I understand that it’s the hockey business that you have to do whatever you have to do to make the hockey team better,” said Krejci to NBCSportsBoston.com. “Obviously I don’t want to go anywhere. But Donnie [Sweeney] has got to do what he’s got to do. [Hockey is a business] is what I’ve learned over the years. I love being here and I’ve got three years left, so for me it was just about getting ready to be the best player I can be. I’m still young and I feel like I still have some of my best years in front of me. Maybe not 70 or 80 points production-wise, but maybe more of a complete player and helping out the young guys grow.”

These are challenging times for Krejci as he’s coming off a so-so year where he finished with 17 goals and 44 points while missing 18 games due to injury. On the plus side, he formed a nice chemistry with Jake DeBrusk and that duo should end up paired together again on the second line this season. But the Czech center never really got things going with Rick Nash after his trade from New York, and the B’s second line became a big problem in the second round series vs. Tampa Bay when Boston’s offense got extremely one-dimensional.

It wasn’t a bad season from Krejci, of course, but it also didn’t meet expectations for the highest-paid forward on the team. So when it came time for the Bruins to chase after Tavares, the worst part of the whole experience for Krejci was the fans that were coming after him on his Instragram account to vulgarly demand he waive his no-trade and go elsewhere.

The “getting targeted on social media” part was clearly still bugging him when he chatted about it with NBC Sports Boston a couple of days ago after captains' practice.

“I tried to stay away as much as I can from everything [during the Tavares sweepstakes], but you can’t. I was actually getting some not-very-nice messages on Instagram to ask for a trade, so you know they could get Tavares,” said Krejci to NBC Sports Boston. “Some people were asking me in a nice way, and some weren’t asking me in a very nice way.

“I have a lot of fans, which is great. I think it’s a common thing where people say ‘Awesome, awesome…great job’ and you appreciate it. But if there’s a bad comment it sticks in your head. So that wasn’t nice.”

Clearly, Krejci is a total pro after 769 games in a Bruins uniform over the last 10-plus seasons, and has done enough truly remarkable things with the Bruins to keep the confidence level high headed into this season. But nobody is going to blame him if Krejci is feeling a little more uneasy at this point knowing that the Bruins have already held discussions on what do with him if a better option comes across their path.

Maybe that will really motivate Krejci to have one of his best seasons and turn back the clock to a vintage 20-goal/70-point season that he’s been capable of in his best years. Or maybe it will cause him to second-guess how committed the Bruins are to an aging center playing out the rest of his three-year contract in Boston.  

Time will tell with Krejci, but it’s pretty clear that the chase after Tavares left a lasting, not-so-great impact on him this summer.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Brad Marchand laments not 'being the guy that's a difference-maker' in Game 7

Brad Marchand laments not 'being the guy that's a difference-maker' in Game 7

BRIGHTON, Mass – It’s no secret to say that the Bruins best players were simply not that when it came to winning and losing time in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final.

Not only was the Perfection Line, Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak, held off the scoreboard in the 4-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues in the decisive game of the Cup Final, but a key mistake by Marchand led to the backbreaking goal. Marchand opted to head to the ice for a line change with 10 seconds left on the clock in the second period, and in doing so allowed the Blues an odd-man rush where Jaden Schwartz fed Alex Pietrangelo for the game-winning goal.

“The more you think about it, I think it just gets harder,” said Marchand. “You start to pick apart everything that you’d like to change. You start thinking about the ‘What ifs.’ It just makes it tough. This is going to hurt forever. You’re never going to get over it.

“There are a few things there [on the play]. A little more awareness to know there was only seven seconds left. I just would have been more aware of the guys coming up the ice because I thought [Jaden Schwartz] was all by himself. I thought the play was dead, but it obviously wasn’t. It was a bad read and I could have read the situation a little differently. That was the difference. One play can really change the outcome of a game. Unfortunately it was costly.”

So not only did the B’s top line not create any productive offense, but a glaring mistake proved to be the breaking point for the Black and Gold.

A couple of days later Marchand lamented the mistakes made in Game 7, and the inability to bring the same game to the postseason that allowed him to be a 100-point scorer during the regular season. Unfortunately for Marchand his Cup Final performance was about turnovers, bad decisions at both ends of the ice and an unwillingness at times to shoot the puck, and that’s not who No. 63 was for pretty much all of the regular season.  

“It’s definitely something you think about. Part of why we’re such a good group is that we all expect to be good in the big moments and we all expect to come through,” said Marchand, who had just a single 5-on-5 assist in the seven game series versus the Blues with two goals and five points overall to go along with a minus-2 rating. “I think personally I definitely have that thought where I would have liked to have been the guy that would be a difference-maker…be better in that situation. That’s how it plays out sometimes.”

Marchand admitted following the series that he was dealing with groin, oblique and hand injuries during the Stanley Cup Final, but it doesn’t sound like any of those things are going to require surgery. So there are no injury excuses here and instead Marchand and his linemates simply didn’t get it done against a big, strong and heavy St. Louis Blues defensemen core.

The question now becomes whether it was simply a bad stretch for Boston’s top line, or if there is a change that needs to come for Marchand, Bergeron and Pastrnak. It sure felt like by the end of the Cup Final that the trio simply didn’t have enough size and strength to get to the front of the net, and needed at least one member of their line that could win more battles with oversized D-men in the scoring areas.

The Bruins top line had the same issues with the big, strong Lightning defensemen corps a year ago as well, and a playbook is certainly there against Marchand, Bergeron and Pastrnak given the right kind of personnel on the back end.

That will be a story for the offseason for the Black and Gold, however. The story this week was about Boston’s best players not being able to get it done when it mattered most, and that most definitely includes Marchand. 

David Pastrnak knows he needs to toughen up>>>

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.

Zdeno Chara thanks fans on Instagram, says Bruins 'will be back'

Zdeno Chara thanks fans on Instagram, says Bruins 'will be back'

Zdeno Chara was one of the biggest stories of the 2019 Stanley Cup Final for the Boston Bruins. In Game 4, Chara suffered a broken jaw after taking a puck to the face. Despite that, he came back to play in Games 5-7 and did everything he could to help the Boston Bruins win.

Unfortunately, the Bruins couldn't come through. They dropped Game 7 of the Cup Final and the St. Louis Bruins became the NHL champions. It was a disappointing end to the season, but it certainly didn't take away from Chara's warrior-like performance that topped the Bruins' laundry list of injuries.

On Sunday, Chara took to Instagram to thank the Bruins fans for their support during the team's playoff run and ended the post with a strong message: "We will be back..."

View this post on Instagram

It’s been only few days, but I can still hear the overwhelming cheers and applause from our fans. I knew we had the best fans ,but I didn’t realized how special and remarkable you are till I stood in front of you before Game 5.It was an unbelievable experience to have your support. I couldn’t help to fight back tears, but so happy to respond to adversity and be there with my teammates. It was unbelievable feeling of pride and honor to be a Bostonian. We as Bruins fell short of our team goal, but we’re so grateful that we made you proud.This group of players and coaches are very special.I can’t say enough about how many times our team responded the right way to adversity and embrace the challenges. We believe in hard work.We treat each other equally and with respect.We trust each other and depend on each other, but mostly we love to play for this community. On behalf of all of the players and from the bottom of my heart, thank you to all of our fans for your support and loyalty this year. We never could have made it this far without you. We will be back...

A post shared by Zdeno Chara (@zeechara33) on

This was a great gesture by the 42-year-old captain and long-time Bruin. It's no surprise that he acknowledged the fan support and in particular, the rousing applause he got before playing in Game 5 with the broken jaw. He truly loves the Boston and fans, and the feeling is mutual.

Chara will return to the Bruins for at least one more season in 2020. He signed a one-year, $2 million extension midway through last season and will try to help the Bruins go on another deep playoff run in 2020.

HAGGERTY: Don't fall in love with this Bruins team>>>

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.