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David Krejci leaving Bruins to return to Czech Republic

olympic men's hockey

BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS - MAY 01: David Krejci #46 of the Boston Bruins skates against the Buffalo Sabres during the third period at TD Garden on May 01, 2021 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Bruins defeat the Sabres 6-2. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)

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Th Bruins are losing a significant member of their core as longtime center David Krejci announced on Friday that he is leaving the NHL to return to the Czech Republic.

Krejci, who’s contract expired after the 2020-21 NHL season, said in a statement that he made the important decision to return home where he can play in front of his family who have sacrificed so much to help him achieve his professional dreams. Along with that he said it is very important for him that his children spend time where he grew up and get an opportunity to meet Czech family members.

Krejci, 35, has been a member of the Bruins since 2006-07 season, scoring 215 goals and 730 total points in 962 regular-season games. He has also been one of the best playoff performers in franchise history with 124 points in 156 playoff games, helping the franchise to three different Stanley Cup Finals and one championship.

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In the short-term this is a big loss for the Bruins because they were almost certainly expecting him to again center their second line between Taylor Hall and Craig Smith. That line was outstanding last year after Hall was acquired at the trade deadline, and it gave the Bruins a great complement to their top line of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and David Pastrnak.

For years the Bruins had Krejci centering a second line that was weak on the wings. Now they have the wings to form a great second line and (for the time being) nobody to center them.

One option to consider: It might put them in the running for Sabres superstar Jack Eichel. It would be costly to get Buffalo trade him within the division, it would require some salary cap maneuvering, but it would be intriguing. But whether it is him or somebody else the Bruins definitely have a need for that spot in their lineup.