David Krejci let his game speak for itself on the best ice hockey stages


“It’s almost like he doesn’t have any emotions, good or bad.”

Boston Bruins center David Krejci (46) celebrates after leveling the game 4-4.  The Bruins were two goals behind the Wild before scoring twice to tie in the closing minutes of the third period.

David Krejci played regularly for the Bruins during his 16 seasons in Boston. Barry Chin / Globe staff


For nearly a century, a team-wide identity of style and size has been woven into the fabric that makes up the Spoked-B sweater.

However, David Krejci was cut from a different cloth.

In an Original Six franchise where devastating left hooks from the likes of Lucic and O’Reilly garnered as much applause as full turnovers, Krejci projected a confident, understated profile.

Unlike fan favorites like Brad Marchand or Shawn Thornton, who have a penchant for mischief and post-whistle riots, Krejci was a comforting sight amid the organized chaos that erupted around him on the frozen sheet.

Unlike hulking giants like Zdeno Chara, Krejci has never been an imposing physical presence on the ice.

He chose to make the opponent pay with an stimulating saucer pass rather than a check against the glass pane.

Born in the Czech Republic, Sternberk was never the fastest skater on the ice, nor did he carry the same howitzer as his compatriot David Pastrnak.

Even in the middle, Krejci often acted behind the scenes on the Boston depth chart – with Patrice Bergeron drawing most of the attention as the team’s vocal leader and two-pronged maestro.

But in the time of crisis few could orchestrate plays under pressure quite like Krejci – the brain center whose cool demeanor was matched only by the ice in his veins when the lights shone brightest.

And in a city where legacies are measured by banners, Krejci often let his play do the talking.

“If you look around in those big moments, you can feel the pressure on the bench, in the stands, and on the coaches and players. When you look at him, he just hangs around,” Brad Marchand said of Krejci in January. “It’s almost like he doesn’t have any emotions, good or bad.”

Krejci, 37, announced his official retirement from the NHL on Monday morning, hanging up his skates after 1,032 games – all with the Bruins.

Chara’s arrival in 2006 represented a necessary sea change for an unleaded Bruins franchise. Tim Thomas’ convincing performance between the posts paved the way for Boston’s first Stanley Cup in 39 years.

But it was Bergeron’s and Krejci’s one-two in the middle that served as the cornerstone for Boston to build a perpetually competitive roster for nearly two decades. During Krejci’s 16 seasons in Boston, the Bruins failed to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs just three times.

“I’m grateful for the opportunity to work with him simply because he’s so intellectual,” Jim Montgomery said of Krejci earlier this season. “I love how competitive he is. The fire to be elite burns in him. Then combine that with creativity. That’s why he’s such a special player.”

Krejci’s physical abilities may not set him apart from many NHL players. But his ability to process the puck on his racquet gave him an advantage few could replicate.

In a game where first-class looks and game-changing mistakes are often executed in split seconds, Krejci seemed to bend time and physics to his will as he held the cookie.

Instead of running north-south, Krejci floated east-west in the attack zone, lurking near the outer layer of enemy defenses in search of flaws in their armor.

His crisp passing game allowed other top six talents like Milan Lucic, Nathan Horton and Jarome Iginla to find success during their various tenures in Boston.

Later in his career, Krejci was often faced with the unenviable task of pushing the game forward without much stability on his line. In the 2018/19 season, Krejci posted a career-high 73 points – despite completing at least 15 minutes of ice time using 14 different line combinations.

His crisp passing allowed him to rack up 555 assists — the fifth-highest in Bruins history. Only eight other Bruins scored more points than he did (786).

But Krejci’s legacy in Boston isn’t about the stat lines released from October through early April.

As the calendar rolled into spring, the mild-mannered Krejci was regularly the facilitator of the cacophony of cheers that erupted from the TD Garden seats above him.

He buried four-game winners en route to Boston’s long-awaited Stanley Cup title in 2011, although his greatest contribution came in dismantling Guy Boucher’s stingy 1-3-1 defense in game seven of the Eastern Conference Finals .

After leading the league in 2011 with 23 playoff points, Krejci used Boston’s 2013 Stanley Cup Finals first-place finish with 26 points in 22 games.

Even in 2019, when he had a carousel of wingers like Karson Kuhlman and David Backes to his right, Krejci scored 16 points in the B’s final run to the title.

When injuries and the inevitable decline of Father Time sapped his playing skills in late April, Krejci still scored a three-pointer in his last game with Boston in Game 7 against the Panthers.

Krejci finished his career with 128 points in 160 playoff games. Krejci, along with longtime teammates Bergeron and Marchand, sits second all-time in postseason standings in franchise history, trailing only Ray Bourque (161).

“To be honest, I don’t really pay attention to it,” Krejci said of his “Playoff Krech” nickname in May 2021. “I don’t look much on the internet. I just try to focus on every game. Whatever happened in the previous game, I forget it and prepare for the next one.”

Throughout his career, Krejci preferred to stay away from the limelight.

He was never the focus of the Bruins’ extended window, nor was he the most bombastic of appearances. Most of the praise given to him was often directed at his teammates.

But for 16 years there were few athletes in Boston who performed at the highest level as consistently as Krejci.

And among that sparse group, none made it through with more composure than Krejci.

Cut from a different fabric? No doubt.

But when the time comes his No. 46 sweater hangs under the garden rafters alongside other Bruins legends, it will be hard to tell the difference.

Tom Vazquez

Tom Vazquez is a USTimeToday U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Tom Vazquez joined USTimeToday in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with Tom Vazquez by emailing tomvazquez@ustimetoday.com.

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