The Boston Bruins were among the finalists in the John Tavares sweepstakes earlier this summer, and while that might have been an exciting few days for the Boston fan base, it was not a pleasant time for Bruins forward David Krejci.
If you hadn’t heard, Tavares ended up signing a seven-year, $77-million deal with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Hypothetically, if Tavares had signed a similar deal with the Bruins it would’ve put them in a salary cap bind. It also would’ve potentially put Krejci in a tough spot considering they’d need to shed some dollars and Krejci is the team’s highest-paid player.
The Bruins were one of six teams Tavares and his camp met with in Los Angeles in the days leading up to July 1 and the start of NHL free agency — the Maple Leafs, San Jose Sharks, Dallas Stars, Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Islanders were the other teams Tavares considered.
Krejci didn’t know what to think when he saw Bruins team president Cam Neely and general manager Don Sweeney take a trip to L.A. to meet with the star centre.
“I had no idea what was going on. My agent didn’t tell me [anything] because he said he didn’t know anything,” Krejci told Joe Haggerty of NBC Sports Boston. “I didn’t get any phone calls from anyone from the Bruins. … I know that I have a no-trade [clause] so they would have to call me [if they did end up signing Tavares]. Yeah, that wasn’t kind of something I enjoyed. But it was over pretty quick. It was a quick couple of weeks. It is what it is.”
Krejci is 32 with three years remaining on his current contract that pays him an average of $7.25 million per season. The Czech centre has a higher cap hit than the likes of Patrice Bergeron ($6.875 million), David Pastrnak ($6.666 million) and Brad Marchand ($6.125 million) – that trio was perhaps the NHL’s best line in 2017-18 – so he’s no stranger to playing with the pressure of living up to that lofty cap hit.
“I understand that it’s the hockey business that you have to do whatever you have to do to make the hockey team better,” Krejci said. “Obviously I don’t want to go anywhere. But [Sweeney] has got to do what he’s got to do. [Hockey is a business] is what I’ve learned over the years. I love being here and I’ve got three years left, so for me it was just about getting ready to be the best player I can be. I’m still young and I feel like I still have some of my best years in front of me. Maybe not 70 or 80 points production-wise, but maybe more of a complete player and helping out the young guys grow.”
As the Bruins attempted to court Tavares, Krejci also got a lesson in the perils of social media.
“I tried to stay away as much as I can from everything [during the Tavares sweepstakes], but you can’t,” Krejci added. “I was actually getting some not-very-nice messages on Instagram to ask for a trade, so you know they could get Tavares.
“Some people were asking me in a nice way, and some weren’t asking me in a very nice way. I have a lot of fans, which is great. I think it’s a common thing where people say ‘Awesome, awesome…great job’ and you appreciate it. But if there’s a bad comment it sticks in your head. So that wasn’t nice.”