ANAHEIM, CA - On Monday, the Czech Republic's Olympic hockey squad was announced, with Bruins center David Krejci getting the official nod to suit up for his native country in his second straight Olympics.
Krejci made his first appearance in 2010 at the Vancouver Winter Olympics, and will be heading to Sochi, Russia with that experience in tow.
"I actually knew it before, the coach called me and told me he wanted me to be on the team, so I kind of knew it before, but nothing was official until today, so obviously my friends and family start texting me," Krejci said following the Bruins' practice at Honda Center in Anaheim on Monday.
"So it's pretty cool and it's an honor to play for my country."
Krejci is no stranger to the international stage, having played in the World Juniors, World Under-18 Championship and World Championship, before getting his first Olympic nod as a 23-year-old.
In 2010, the centerman finished the tournament with two goals, an assist and a plus-2 rating. He was at the top of his game, playing with confidence.
Like he elevates his game in the NHL playoffs, the same could be expected at the Olympic level.
"I feel like four years ago, when I came home from the Olympics, that I played pretty good hockey, but it happened four years ago, it's such a quick tournament, two weeks, you play 5-6 games so you can count on anything after that," said Krejci. "So you just try to do your best every game and go from there."
Finishing in seventh in Vancouver and not medaling was a disappointment, and the result hurt enough that Krejci couldn't even get himself to watch the Canada/United States gold-medal game until the overtime.
So, how does he like his team's chances this year?
"I like the chances," said Krejci. "Everybody's talking about Canada, Sweden, U.S., Russia, but we still have good players, and in a tournament like that, it's only a matter of one game, you know, there's no best of seven or best of five; it's just one game, so anybody has a chance."
Four years isn't that far removed, but much has happened for Krejci in that time - namely, winning the Cup, along with leading the postseason in scoring two out of three seasons, and being named alternate captain for the Bruins. He's become a veteran, even if he's still only 27 years old.
Maybe even to the point where he's now a leader for the Czechs.
"You would think so, but we actually have the same players," said Krejci. "We have [Jaromir] Jagr, we have [Patrik] Elias, we have Tomas Kaberle as well, so we have lots of old - older guys, so - not old," he caught himself, laughing. The respective parties come in at 41, 37 and 35 years old (and not to mention the 42-year-old Petr Nedved).
"Veterans," we finally settled on. "But, obviously yeah, I'm going to try to play my best and going to try to be a leader on the ice."
Krejci's credentials made him a "shoo-in," according to Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien.
"It's going to be his second one, so he's got some experience as far as that's concerned. He's become a better player over the years, just with the experience he's gotten and the leadership he's grown accustomed to having with us, as far as going out there on the ice and showing that," said the bench boss.
"Nobody's going to intimidate him and I think he's - to me - he was a shoo-in. There are guys on every country we know are shoo-ins, and to me, I would have been extremely shocked had he not been picked."
And like other Bruins who may make their respective countries' teams, Krejci will be focused on the Games while over in Sochi, but will then get right back to the Spoked-B.
"Sometimes it's better that you play than have two weeks off and maybe 10 days with no practice, so I'm kind of looking forward to some games, especially the Olympics since it's such a big event," said Krejci. "So hopefully after that, I'm going to be ready to go and do the job here in Boston."
The NHL's Olympic Break runs from February 9-25, with the preliminary round begins on February 12 and the gold-medal game slotted for February 23, before the 2013-14 season resumes on February 26.
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