Don’t count Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy as one of those blindsided by David Krejci’s decision to leave the Bruins and return home to the Czech Republic.
In fact, Krejci made it known to Cassidy, who was recently named to Team Canada’s coaching staff for the 2022 Olympics in Beijing, that this was a possibility when the B’s season came to an end two months ago.
“[Krejci] came to us at the end of the year [and] he was very upfront about it,” Cassidy told TSN 1200 in Ottawa. “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 [Don Sweeney] a month later and decided he was going to follow through on that.”
And Like every other member of the front office, coaching staff, or teammate who has spoken about Krejci’s decision to play for the team that helped launch his pro career 20 years ago, Cassidy made it clear that Krejci has his full support.
“He’s going to play in his home country,” Cassidy noted. “His kids are young, he wants them to get to know his family, try to learn the language, et cetera. Those things are very important to him, and we support him 100 percent in that.”
But, similar to Sweeney dropping some interesting tidbits last week, Cassidy did acknowledge the possibility of Krejci returning to the team, and as soon as this year.
“[Krejci] did not close the door on returning back,” said Cassidy. “I don’t know if that’ll happen or when it’ll happen at all. 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. [Sweeney] signed some good free agents, we added some depth. We have a good young player in [Jack] Studnicka [and] Charlie Coyle could move up [to the second line]. We’ll see how we can fill that hole and see where David is at later in the season.”
The Bruins have already penciled in Coyle as the team’s early favorite to replace Krejci on the second line. But, again, like Sweeney, Cassidy is leaving the door open for a Krejci return whenever he would like to journey back across the Atlantic.
Now, there are obvious issues when it comes to Krejci rejoining the Bruins.
The first is that Krejci would need to sign with the Bruins before the trade deadline to be playoff eligible. That may create a tight window depending on how HC Olomouc performs this season (their season is currently slated to run through early March), and whether or not Krejci is willing to leave his Czech team before the end of their season. There’s also the legitimate question as to whether or not Krejci would be down to abandon the idea of playing in front of his friends and family after less than one full season. Given the magnitude of the move, that seems a little unlikely.
The other is the timing of a Krejci reunion in Boston. Assuming he suits up for Czech League action in 2021-22, Krejci would require waivers upon a jump back to the NHL (per NHL rule 13.23). There’s always the play that Krejci’s camp could tell teams that he only intends on playing for the Bruins to scare teams off claiming Krejci, but it’s also entirely possible that a crafty team chasing the Bruins in the standings would happily put in a claim to simply block the Bruins. The latter is certainly a tactical move that would make sense if you’re the Leafs for example, but it’s also something that we rarely see in a league full of unwritten codes and handshake agreements. (I mean, they still haven’t even taken a single step to close the LTIR loophole that allowed the Lightning to keep and add to what was already a dang playoff superteam, so.)
But Cassidy did provide a little extra insight into that scenario, noting the date that the 35-year-old Krejci would have to sign with the Bruins to avoid a trip through the always-unpredictable waiver wire.
“I think you’re subject to waivers after a certain date,” Cassidy said. “I’m going to throw out December 15. I think it’s around there once you play games [overseas]. David, once he starts playing, there’s waivers [after] mid-December.”
That, again, would require Krejci reversing course on his decision even sooner than envision with a pre-deadline move.
Is it likely? Forget likely. How about even remotely within a realm resembling reality? Only Krejci knows. But Cassidy, like Sweeney, is clearly leaving that door open given the talent level of Krejci.
“We’ll miss [Krejci] as a guy,” Cassidy admitted. “He’s a great Bruin, great teammate. Very quiet, kind of did it under the radar, great playoff performer.”
Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter: @_TyAnderson.