On Thursday night, Rick Middleton’s number 16 will be raised to the rafters at TD garden. He’ll be the 11th Bruin to have his number honored, and the first since Cam Neely in 2004, almost 15 years ago.
So it raises the question, which current Bruins will see their number retired in the coming years?
Well, Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron are obvious ones. It doesn’t take 1000 words to tell you why the teammates of 13 years are going to be first ballot Hall of Famers.
But who else? There’s one more member of the core of the Bruins modern day golden age that doesn’t get the same credit as a franchise all-timer the way Chara or Bergeron do, but his impact is among the Bruins all time greats.
Now, is Krejci a shoo-in for the hall of fame like Chara or Bergeron, or made the cultural impact like that of Cam Neely or Terry O’Reilly? No, but in pretty much every category, he’s among the greatest Bruins of all time.
Krejci is still only 32, so he has time to cement his legacy further. He has 3 years remaining on his contract including this season, so he’ll be UFA after the 2021 season (which, by the way, is a potential lock out year). So assuming Krejci can stay healthy and productive, that’s a max of 223 more regular season games as of November 25th, plus there will be playoff games. So assuming he plays out his contract, Krejci will have played 14 seasons for the Bruins, not including 06/07 when he played just 6 games. Playing 100 more regular season games would put him 7th among the Bruins all time games played list, passing Middleton and O’Reilly.
Longevity is critical when it comes to this stuff, but Krejci has been the epitome consistent season-to-season, which is ironic considering the biggest knock on Krejci throughout his career has been his consistency, going through weeks of unstoppable dominance followed by weeks where he seems invisible. Krejci’s single season point production peaked in his first full season, when he put up 73 points and 51 assists playing with Michael Ryder, and he bottomed out the next season on a 2010 Bruins team that struggled to score when he put up 52 points. Never falling 52 points and often producing in the mid-60s for as long as Krejci has makes him one of the longest most consistent producers since he entered the league. His 326 5v5 points is 24th, and his 2.45 points/60 is 29th in the NHL since his first full season in 07/08. He’s 26th in all situations points with 586 and his 410 assists is 14th since his final recall from Providence on December 31, 2007. He’s never been a superstar, but a top 30 producer in the NHL since he came into the league.
Krejci already is 8th on the Bruins all time assists with 413, so if he stays healthy and productive could conceivably finish in the top 5 or 6 in assist all time in Bruins history. With two more points, Krejci will pass Cam Neely for 10th all time in points. By the end of these 3 years, Krejci could very easily be 7th in franchise history in games played, 8th all time in points, and 5th or 6th all time in assist, depending on how Patrice Bergeron finishes his masterful career. Those are the rankings and numbers of a franchise great.
It’s amazing that I’ve gotten this far into the article and haven’t mentioned playoff David Krejci. He has 32 goals and 55 assists in 108 playoff games, which of course includes a Stanley Cup ring 2011 and another final in 2013. He lead the playoffs in both of those seasons, with 23 points in 25 games in 2011 and 26 points in 22 games in 2013. He has 2.25 points/60 in the playoffs, second to just Sidney Crosby, and ahead of players like Patrick Kane, Evgeni Malkin, and Pavel Datsyuk. Just an absolute monster in the playoffs, and nothing like we’ve seen in a Bruins uniform this century. There is no 2011 Stanley Cup Championship without David Krejci, and he truly was a massive part of the culture change in Boston.
And that brings me to my next point: cultural impact. Every player who’s number is hanging from the rafters has made some sort of impact beyond putting points on the board. For Bergeron, it’s his willingness to play through literally anything and being the definition of a perfect hockey player. For Chara, it’s his beastly 6’9 frame and his signing in Boston that changed the direction of the franchise. For Cam Neely, it was his physical dominance, similar for Terry O’Reilly. And for Bobby Orr, it was that he was, well, Bobby Orr. For David Krejci, it’s not entirely clear, but it’s there. Similar to Chara, his cultural impact was that he was part of the group that came in, changed things, and made this franchise relevant once again, and a perennial Stanley Cup contender. The names that come to mind are Zdeno Chara, Marc Savard, Phil Kessel, Milan Lucic, David Krejci, and Claude Julien. Those are the guys that brought the Boston Bruins from a last place team in 2007 to a surprise playoff team in 2008, to one of the league’s best in 2009, and completely changed to feel around the Bruins, and to be taken seriously in the city of Boston, and around the league. David Krejci has been here through it all: playing in Providence, playing through the disappointments of 2009, 2010, and 2012, 2013, and 2014 playing through the great teams of 2011, 2013, 2014, and 2018, and the not so great teams of 2015 and 2016. That’s David Krejci’s cultural impact. He’s worn a ‘A’ on his jersey, and was part of the small few that changed the feel around the Bruins and ultimately the direction of the franchise, and he’s been a staple through the modern day Bruins golden age, and everything in between.
You may not think of David Krejci as a franchise all timer the way you do Bobby Orr, Cam Neely, Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara, or any of the other players who have their number hanging from the TD Garden rafters, but when it’s all said and done, David Krejci is going to be all over the Bruins all time leaderboards, surrounded by those who have their numbers retired. It could be at the end of the final 3 years remaining on his contract, or it could be longer, but Krejci still has plenty of time to cement his legacy, and though he may not have another 70 point season left in him (though he’s on pace for 68 this season), another Stanley Cup run to show his playoff dominance will give the Bruins all the more reason to hang his number up there when with Bergeron and Chara, and it would be a nice tribute to that 2011 team. Krejci’s consistency and longevity will never make him a Hockey Hall of Famer, and has never made him a superstar, but when his Bruins career finally comes to an end, David Krejci will be among the greatest Bruins of all time. Someday, we should be seeing a number 46 between a 37 and a 77 hanging from the TD Garden rafters.
Featured Imagine: Boston Herald
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