BOSTON -- Late last week, David Krejci and the Boston Bruins agreed on a six-year contract extension, which means he has seven years to accomplish his goal of winning numerous Stanley Cup championships for the black and gold.
The 28-year-old top-line center has one year remaining on his current deal before his six-year, $43.5 million contract begins in 2015-16.
Krejci’s willingness to sign a long-term deal now means he can focus on playing and nothing else. He said his decision to stay in Boston was an easy one, mainly because the organization is dedicated to winning by locking up core players such as Zdeno Chara, Patrice Bergeron, Tuukka Rask to long-term deals. Krejci said he hopes Milan Lucic joins the list very soon.
“The core is here and I feel like we still have lots of years left and we can compete for the Cup in the next few years, so that was one of the reasons why I decided to sign now and not wait until next year when I will be a free agent and see what’s out there,” Krejci said. “I was really happy that the deal happened before the season started and we can just move on, not think about anything and just play hockey.”
Krejci could have been a free agent after the upcoming season and likely could have earned a bigger contract elsewhere, especially with the likelihood of the salary cap increasing next summer.
“Yeah, maybe I could get more, maybe less, but money wasn’t really the issue. I wanted to play where I could win,” Krejci said. “[Bruins general manager] Peter [Chiarelli] and the organization feel I could help them win the Cup and that means a lot. I didn’t hesitate and accepted the offer. I’m glad I can be a Bruin for the next seven years.”
For years, Chiarelli has focused on keeping the Bruins’ core intact. The formula of top-line centers -- Krejci and Bergeron -- along with a true No. 1 goaltender in Rask, and a strong defensive unit led by Chara and Dennis Seidenberg is a sign of the organization’s commitment to winning.
“It’s awesome that they believe in you, that they trust you. It means a lot,” Krejci said. “You just go out there and play the game, you don’t think about anything else. To have Peter, Cam [Neely], the whole organization behind me, that’s awesome. That’s perfect. I really feel we have a really good team this year and the next few years as well, so hopefully we can make a run. That’s why I signed here. I want to win another Cup and this is the team that can do it.”
Krejci and Lucic have been longtime linemates, but the last few seasons they’ve had some turnover on their right wing. Nathan Horton helped the Bruins win the Stanley Cup in 2011 and after he signed with the Columbus Blue Jackets as a free agent, the Bruins signed future Hall of Famer Jarome Iginla to play alongside Krejci and Lucic.
It’s no coincidence both players enjoyed their most consistent season with Iginla on the right side, but now that Iginla is playing for the Colorado Avalanche, Loui Eriksson will get a look on the team’s top line.
“Chemistry you can create pretty fast and if you have the right guy, a guy who listens and knows how you play, then it could be easy,” Krejci said. “I played a couple of games with Loui last year and I like playing with him. He’s a great player. He can pass the puck and I feel if I play with him I’ll have even more goals because he’s a great passer. Obviously I’m excited and I would play with him. We’ll see how camp goes and go from there.”
If that trio works, it will give Boston’s top line a different look than it had with Horton and Iginla, both of whom featured a physical presence. Eriksson is more of a two-way, finesse player.
“Don’t get me wrong, Milan and Iggy, even Nathan before, they’re great passers, especially Milan,” Krejci said. “He can see the ice well and people underestimate his passing, but I feel like with Loui, he’s a little bit more of a playmaker than a power forward. I’m looking forward to it. I’m excited how camp will go and how we’re going to create chemistry.”
Krejci has recorded only two 20-goal seasons during his seven years with the Bruins. Last season, he had 19 goals and 50 assists for 69 points in 80 games, but he’s hoping to generate more scoring.
“I do want to score more goals, for sure,” Krejci said. “Not necessarily because I signed a new deal, but just because I want to get better every year. That’s my goal -- get more goals and help the team win more games.”
As disappointing as last season’s second-round exit from the playoffs at the hands of the Montreal Canadiens was, one positive aspect for Krejci was that he would have a long summer to rest and recuperate in preparation for the 2014-15 season.
“I feel great. I took some time off, but after a few weeks I got back in the gym and started to do some stuff. I feel like I’m in really good shape. Only time will tell, but I feel great. I wanted to come into camp in the best shape I could be and I feel really, really close,” he said.
Krejci also believes he’s ready to add more to the team off the ice. Prior to last season, he was honored when he was named assistant captain. He took pride having the “A” on his sweater but believes he can be a better leader moving forward.
“It was a learning experience for me,” he said. “It was new, but I feel like I did an OK job. I don’t think I did a great job at it, but it was a learning experience and I know what to expect now. I know how to treat the other guys in the dressing room and I feel I can take on a bigger role.”
Krejci is the type of player who focuses on the present and nothing else. But he admitted Monday that if he accomplishes his goal of helping the Bruins win a few more Stanley Cups during the next seven seasons, he would like to return to the Czech Republic and finish his hockey career at home.
“I want to win and I really think we have the team to make a run, not just one year but the next few years,” he said. “Seven years from now, if we have what we’re trying to achieve, then it’s going to be an easier decision to go back home. I’ve always wanted to finish my career back home and that will be a way easier decision [if we win another Cup]. If not, I would have to think twice about my next move.
“But that’s the reason I signed here, I believe we can win, not once, but more times, so it’s just up to us. Seven years is a long way from now and I don’t want to think too much ahead.”