David Krejci Deservedly Earns 'A' But Leadership Goes Beyond Letters for B's
BostonBruins.com - David Krejci is entering his seventh full NHL season as a Boston Bruin, and this season, he'll be sporting a new 'A' on his chest.
But the truth is, as for many Bruins, Krejci has been leading without the credit of the 'A' up until this point.
In the past, he's been given the honor of wearing it when injuries have kept the mainstays out of the lineup. But now, he'll wear it consistently.
Drafted by Boston in 2004, a year after Bergeron, the centerman has steadily - and quietly - been progressing towards the forefront of the Black & Gold.
"He's a good leader on the ice and every year in the playoffs, he comes up big," said Head Coach Claude Julien, after announcing Krejci as the new alternate captain on October 1, following a team practice in Vermont during their team-building trip. "I think it's time for him to show that for us, and after I talked to him, he seemed keen on wanting to be that guy."
During the 2013 Eastern Conference Final, amidst Krejci's second time leading postseason scoring, he showcased why being "that guy" comes easily.
After helping the B's advance to their second Stanley Cup Final in three years, the lights-out Bruin wouldn't take an ounce of credit for his play.
"We don’t have the superstars on this team, and we may not have the best players in the world," he said.
"But we might have the best team in the world. That’s how we play. We play as a team."
"I’m really excited for Krech," alternate captain Patrice Bergeron told BostonBruins.com during the team's Media Day on October 2, before the puck dropped on the 2013-14 season.
"I think it’s well deserved and I think his actions speaks for itself on the ice going into the playoffs and the way he led us last year; it was a perfect example of what a leader is."
Krejci led the playoffs with nine goals for 26 points in 22 games, including two game-winners and a hat trick. His point total was the highest since 2010. The center scored four goals in the Eastern Conference Final and had five assists in the Cup Final.
There's a consistent theme with the 27-year-old Bruin that teammates and management know well.
"Obviously Dave is not super vocal in the room, he’s more the type that goes out there and leads by example. His playoffs just kind of speaks volumes to maybe why he was chosen to wear the “A," said fellow alternate, Chris Kelly.
"He shows up to play at the most important times and if it wasn’t for that line, I think our season would have been cut a lot shorter than it was last year so it’s well deserved and I’m sure he’ll embrace it and get better as a player."
"He’s not the most vocal guy but that’s fine," agreed Bergeron. "I think as a leader you just have to be yourself and sometimes guys that speak too much, it does the opposite to the guys. When you have guys that speak when it’s time to and lead by example, I think guys respond to that."
Krejci would agree. He doesn't see this as an mandate to try and do more; he sees it as an "honor" and extension of what he already does.
"First, when I heard about it, it was kind of a mixed feeling of pressure, pride, responsibility, kind of a little bit of everything," said Krejci. "But I realized that he [Coach] didn’t put a letter on my jersey just because he wants me to be more vocal in the room or play differently on the ice."
"There’s a reason why he gave it to me, and I’m sure he doesn’t expect me to change at all so I’m just going to be myself and do what I did before."
Hence, we probably won't be seeing - and hearing - a new, higher volume Krejci on the ice and around the room; we'll just see the same 'Krech.'
"I’m not going to be standing in front of all the guys and try to make some emotional speeches. I’m just going to do my thing and obviously I’m going to try to help out as much as I can," he said.
"We all know each other on this team and because I’m one of the captains right now, my role shouldn’t change on the team."
When Mark Recchi was in the Black & Gold, he was a strong leader in all facets, and players like Krejci and Bergeron took notice. No. 37 would also site Martin LaPointe as a mentor, and Krejci views 'Rex' as someone who still has an effect on him.
"He just had such smart things to say in the dressing room. I can’t really tell you exactly what. There was a time that, also we won the Cup with him, so there was times that we were down, there was times that we were up, and he just knew how to manage the locker room," said Krejci.
"He always had the right thing to say and I don’t know about the other guys but it kind of made sense to me and it kind of relaxed me and I was good to go in the game."
No. 46 may not see himself in a role like Recchi's - at least, not right now - but his simple leadership style has progressed naturally over the years.
"With Krech specifically, to me, he’s a quiet leader. He demands a lot from himself and he demands a lot from his teammates and he can lead by example," said General Manager Peter Chiarelli.
Sound familiar? The unanimous consensus is in.
"Krech is a proud leader, too, so it was good to see that 'A' be put on Krech and when talking about playing your best hockey at the right time of the year, he certainly has done that and that’s how me and everyone else saw it."
Bruins Built Around Core Leadership Group
"It’s the strength of our group that allows these guys to grow into their leadership roles and that’s partially how we build the team," said GM Peter Chiarelli.
A look around the Bruins' locker room will show a number of Bruins who are "captainly" in their own ways.
"I don’t think you need to wear a letter on this team to be a leader. I think there’s some great leaders that don’t have one," said Bergeron.
"I think it’s the whole package of guys that really makes us a team and a unit. I think everyone has their own personality and it’s just great to have that on our team."
For example, Milan Lucic's toughness defines the Bruins identity. Like Krejci, his monster postseason brought out his role as a leader on this team.
"These guys are entering the second half of their twenties, they’ve been here a long time, they see how we operate," said Chiarelli. "They see what we expect and while Krech has the 'A,' we could give it to two or three guys."
Gregory Campbell leads with his dedication to the game and work ethic, among other qualities. Fellow Merlot Liners Daniel Paille and Shawn Thornton both bring veteran status to the B's - and there's no denying his ability to keep his teammates - and opponents - in line.
Loui Eriksson was an alternate captain with Dallas; Jarome Iginla wore the 'C' in Calgary. Dennis Seidenberg, Johnny Boychuk and Adam McQuaid have all earned a more veteran status in the spoked-B, showing the way with both toughness and what it means to be a professional. Even Torey Krug, though a 'rookie' in the eyes of the NHL, exhibits qualities to model.
"You don’t really look at him as a guy who’s only had a few regular season games, you almost kind of look at him like a veteran on our team," McQuaid has said, of his usual defense partner.
And while Thornton revs up the team by dropping the gloves, Brad Marchand sparks his teammates in his own 'Nose Face Killah' kind of way.
"Him doing stuff like that is him leading. Him playing the way that he’s playing, the way he’s capable of playing, is him leading in his own way," said Bergeron of his high-powered left winger. "And he does some little things on and off the ice that brings the guys together and you need that."
"I’ve said it since I’ve gotten here, how many guys in that locker room could easily wear a letter," remarked Chris Kelly. "I think we’re very fortunate to have so many leaders in our locker room."
"You see a guy like Andrew Ference, who was here for a lot of years and did wear an 'A' towards the end of it, his first year in Edmonton he’s named Captain. So it shows that there’s so many leaders on this team that when they go other places, they’re acknowledged."
Many could seek that acknowledgment. But on a team of leaders who haven't searched for credit before, I don't see that changing anytime soon.
"I think we’re really fortunate to have that many guys."