WILMINGTON, Mass. David Krejci wanted to make it very clear that hes much more comfortable playing on the ice than he is talking about himself.
Im not a talker guy like somebody else might be, admitted Krejci. I just go out there. I dont make the headlines with things that I say. I just want to go on the ice and show everybody. I know it wont be easy and there will be some bad games, but I just want to leave everything on the ice no matter what happens.
If I screw up on the ice or if the coach yells at me, I just have to get my head ready for the next shift.
The 26-year-old center has always been a soft-spoken, intelligent youngster from the Czech Republic thoroughly willing to speak his mind, and hes always been keenly aware of whats being said, written and rumored about him. So Krejci was understandably proud after scoring a career-high 23 goals last season, but he also weathered more criticism after finishing a career-worst minus-5 in 79 games. The playmaking center was always able to shake off some of the regular season criticisms by coming up big in the postseason, but last year all of that dried up for him after a giant pane of TD plexi-glass crashed on his head following Game 1 against the Washington Capitals.
Krejci managed only a single goal and three points in the seven-game series loss to the Caps, and the Czech Republic center appeared alternately frustrated and exasperated throughout the series.
Thats a far cry from the player that put up 22 goals, 73 points and an NHL-best plus-37 during his first full year in the NHL in 2008-09.
It was a difficult season where he was demoted to the third line for the first time in his career, he was regularly criticized by coach Claude Julien as a player that could bring more to the table and it ended altogether too soon for a skater that lives for the playoffs.
But what bothered Krejci most of all when he had the chance to reflect on a season full of frustration?
It was the assertions that he floats or coasts through the regular season at times, and that he plays without the propel level of urgency too often when its not life or death in the postseason. Krejci said he heard those critics loud and clear last year, and his whole summer of work was built around proving them wrong.
Some of it stemmed from an interview last year where No. 46 said the regular season doesnt excite him like the playoffs do, but its always more about what the eye test says while watching Krejci play.
I try not to read too much during the season, but there are times when you watch or read things, said Krejci. Ive learned a lot about myself in the last couple of years. I tried to take those things and turn them into a positive, and I used them as motivation when I was working out this summer.
Sometimes you do interviews and you dont always say the smart things or things that you dont mean to. I remember that my name was being tossed around that I was a floater and that I dont play hard enough in all 82 games during the season . . . that I float during the season and then turn it on during the playoffs.
Some of those reports also included trade rumors of Krejci moving to Anaheim in exchange for Bobby Ryan or Phoenix in a swap for Keith Yandle as Patrice Bergeron and Tyler Seguin could eventually slot into the top two center spots on the Bs depth chart. Those whispers certainly dont appear to be dying down anytime soon with the salary cap expected to go down, and Krejci now commanding more than 5 million per season as the teams highest paid forward (5.25 million) next season.
Obviously Krejci didnt like what he read and heard, and appears to have gained a few pounds of muscle while over the summer months working out in the Czech Republic.
Maybe something like that did happen, but if it did I dont always say the right things or say what I mean. I know what the organization thinks about me, but Ive heard my name tossed around in the newspapers with trade rumors, said Krejci. You read them saying lets trade for this guy because he doesnt float during the regular season just like Krejci does, so those things got me motivated for this year. I worked really hard this summer and hopefully it shows this season on the ice.
The best way for Krejci to silence the critics that havent enjoyed the hot-and-cold performances: consistency. In the months of October and February last season Krejci managed only three points and a minus-12 in 20 games, and essentially disappeared for close to two months of the season.
In the other five months Krejci scored 59 points and was a plus-7 in 59 games last season, and was exactly the kind of player people around the Bruins envisioned when the Czech Republic pivot finally reaches his considerable potential.
So Krejci knows whats been said about him, and knows what he was to do to quiet those accusers. Now its just a matter of going out and doing it once the season finally gets moving.