BOSTON – Jim Montgomery admitted it took a while to fully understand David Kreich.
The longtime center can be tough to break down, a trait that has served him well over 16 seasons on the ice as he navigates the locker room with a calm, cool and sometimes unflappable manner.
But when Krejci lets you in, as Montgomery found, personality comes out.
“It took a little while to break down the walls,” Montgomery said. “He’s very funny. When we were in Anaheim, he scored that goal where he scored one. I told him.
“He said, ‘There’s a lot you don’t know about me. He is very quick witted. What makes him so fun to be around is how nice a person he is. His teammates love him.”
As anyone who watched his career with the Black & Gold knows David Kreich is he one of the greatest players to ever give Spoked-B. The Czech native ranks in the club’s all-time top 10 in a number of categories, sixth in assists (535), seventh in games played (999), ninth in points (761) and third in playoff games (124 points).
And on Monday afternoon, Krejci will become the seventh player in team history to reach 1,000 career games with the club.
“I’m not surprised he’s reaching this milestone because he’s been able to be so successful and so elite for so long. Kudos to him for working to be his best all these years,” he said. Patrice Bergeronone of seven other players to match the Black & Gold’s 1,000 games.
Over the past decade and a half, Bergeron and Krejci have been side by side, forming one of the NHL’s best 1-2 center combinations for much of that time. And while Bergeron admits there’s always been a healthy rivalry between the two, they’ve embraced the opportunity to push each other to be better.
“I think on a lot of teams, or whatever the sport is, I think there’s going to be a lot of stick heads and stuff, especially when you play the same position as somebody for that long,” Bergeron said. “I feel like we’ve always had that healthy rivalry and we’ve always had that mutual respect where we know how good the other guy is and how valuable they are to the team and the organization.
“Krech is that, he goes about his business, he does his job, and he’s just happy for those who do well, he wants the result, he wants to win, like I do.”
They also formed an indelible bond off the ice as they helped create a culture of respect, commitment and success in the Bruins locker room.
“That connection and that relationship was nice to me,” Bergeron said. “It’s been a lot of fun having him around and having him as a friend, having him as a teammate, and learning from him as a player. Some of the things he does are so hard to replicate. but you still try to learn a thing or two from his game and try to put it into your game. It was very funny. It was nice.
Krejci’s resume speaks for itself. In addition to his all-time club record, he also led the club in playoff scoring twice in Boston’s Stanley Cup Final appearances in both 2011 and 2013. The Eastern Conference Finals against the Lightning is the stuff of legends.
“You can start with his past, his performances in the playoffs, especially in the cup,” he said. Jake DeBrusk. “Just everything that he’s brought to this team, not just with his play and how skilled and patient he is, but as a person. I think I met him in the last half. He helped me so much. when I first walked in. I played with him as a rookie and he taught me what it means to be a Boston Brewer.”
Despite his long list of achievements, there are times when the 36-year-old seems to fly under the radar, both in his approach and how he is judged by some on the outside.
“He’s one of those guys who, when the moment is big, he always steps up and thrives under pressure,” he said. Brad Marchand. “He’s always led the team in scoring in our big runs, he scored some huge goals at the right time in overtime. He’s just one of those guys, he’s not too brilliant at what he does. He’s not the fastest or the toughest. His ability to slow down and make it look easy out there is incredible.
“He’s so consistent. I think that’s what you look for in a really good NHL player, is consistency every night. He has it every night. He always shows up and always comes to play. We were very lucky to have him. and Berg as our 1-2 center for the past 15 years.
“He’s one of those guys, when you look back at the winning team, the last 15 years, he’s the main name. I think he’s always been so underrated to everyone but the guys in this room. When you look at what he can do every time. Just one day, you really see how gifted he is and his level of talent.”
Montgomery compared Krejci to Bergeron because while his stats weren’t always the most eye-catching, his details were always elite.
“He’s a lot like Bergy in that it’s not just pure numbers that reflect the values of our team,” Montgomery said. “He’s cool, he’s calm, he’s extremely prepared, he makes passes that I don’t see from the bench and that’s a credit to his creativity but also to his competitiveness.
“He’s really competitive, and you don’t see that on display a lot on the ice, sometimes it happens. He thinks about winning, he thinks about getting into defensive situations because he’s very proud and he knows he’s good. in all those areas.
“I’m grateful for the opportunity to work with him just because he’s so cerebral and I love how competitive he is. He has a burning fire to be elite inside him. You combine that with creativity and that makes him a special player. “
For more than a decade, Marchand has seen firsthand Krejci’s drive and work ethic, which has helped inspire and motivate him since the beginning of his Bruins career.
“One of the things I was most impressed with when I first came out was I got to practice with him and see how hard he works and how much effort he puts in over the summer,” Marchand said. : “I was always really impressed with him. It was truly an honor to play alongside him and play with him. And we wouldn’t have had the success we’ve had over the last 10-15 years without him. “
Meanwhile, De Brusk has also benefited from Krejci’s tutelage. When the winger first broke into the league in 2017-18, he was on Krejci’s left wing, a position he remained in for several seasons before the center left the Bruins after the 2020-21 season.
“He was someone I could lean on,” DeBrusk said. “Obviously, I had a lot of bright-eyed questions. I think that was one of the biggest things. I always felt comfortable around him. He grabbed me early in training camp and just let me know that we’re going to be together and we’re going to work through this and figure out how to have as much success as possible.
“I think our chemistry just came together and just being the guy he is under the ice really complemented me well, kind of relaxed me. When I thought the world was ending at certain times, he would be there to comfort me. and help me focus on the next shift.”
Cretaceous also helps lighten the mood. While his sense of humor is often subtle and understated, it is just as influential in its timing and impact.
“Being friends with Krech, getting to know him for who he is, I think he has one of the best personalities I’ve ever known,” he said. Charlie McAvoy. “He’s funny, he always keeps things going. He has a great perspective on showing up to work and working hard, but making sure you have fun doing what you do.
“Definitely someone who helps the band when you definitely need a little lift, someone who’s very special overall… Krech means a lot to this band, to this organization, everything he’s been able to accomplish since he’s been here. I think there’s a lot to be said for him playing his entire 1,000-game career with one franchise, not something a lot of guys get to do. He is someone who is indispensable to the Boston Bruins.”
That has never been more evident than this season. After spending the 2021-22 season playing for Olomouc in his native Czech Republic, Krejci returned to the Bruins in the summer on a one-year deal for their under-16s.th season with the Black & Gold.
“Krech’s return this year was a lot more fun. It’s just not the same on the bench, around the room,” Marchand said. “He’s one of the funniest people I’ve ever met. His dry sense of humor, his one liners are the best I’ve ever seen. He just makes things fun.
“The depth he adds to our group is incredible and just his experience, he’s so calm the whole time, always having so much fun. You can see how much he’s enjoying coming back, how much fun he’s having.
“It’s really special to have him back here for another run. Hopefully we can make the most of it.”
Video. Krejci is being honored before his 1,000th NHL game