BOSTON — As he reflected on his 1,000th career NHL game Monday, David Krejci said multiple times that he was just glad the Bruins called to bring him back for this season.

The Bruins are undoubtedly glad he answered the phone.

Krejci spent the 2021-22 season in the Czech Republic. He wanted his parents to be able to see him play up close and his kids to get to know their grandparents better. He knew that he was taking a step back hockey-wise for family reasons.

The Bruins, while disappointed to lose him, naturally gave the move their blessing, while always leaving the door open for Krejci – among the franchise’s career leaders in assists (sixth, 538) and points (764, ninth) in addition to games played (seventh) – to return.

When he agreed to a one-year contract during the summer to come back to Boston, the Bruins hoped Krejci would stabilize their second line and he hoped the only NHL team he’d ever played for would be good enough to make one more Stanley Cup run.

There was outside skepticism in both directions. How much could be expected of a 36-year-old center, who’d played in a lower-level Euro league? How good could the aging Bruins be?


Just past the halfway point of the 2022-23 season, both sides have delivered for each other. The Bruins have the best record in hockey and Krejci picked up where he left off.

“He’s a super smart player. He’s really hard-working,” said first-year Boston forward Pavel Zacha, who grew up rooting for Krejci as a kid in the Czech Republic. “He’s a really good two-way center. Everyone would want a player like him on their team. He’s getting better every year. It’s fun to see. He’s a legend back home. With a thousand games, he’s a legend here too.”

Krejci’s default demeanor is stoic. But on Monday, he was clearly cherishing the milestone and even more than that, being back with the Bruins.

“(The franchise) has been my home. I’m grateful they gave me the call in the summer to come back. …This has been a special year,” said Krejci, who’d been anticipating this game, “I was obviously thinking about this game a lot recently. It’s obviously a big accomplishment playing for one franchise. I’m really proud of myself to be able to do that.”

While he probably won’t reach Ray Bourque’s franchise record 1,518, Krejci isn’t playing like a guy sputtering toward retirement. He’ll have an NHL job next year if he wants one. He’s been energized by the success around him.

“It helps when the team is doing well,” Krejci said. “You come every day to the rink with a smile on your face, enjoying every moment, because you don’t know how long it’s going to last for. … We know what we have in this room. We don’t take it for granted. We’ll see how it goes, but I like the mentality of this team.”


Krejci has 34 points (11 goals and 23 assists) in 38 games. While he’s playing on a below-market contract (one year, $1 million base plus up to $2 million more in incentives), he’s helping David Pastrnak reset that market. Over half of his assists (12) have come on Pastrnak’s goals.

“He’s like my big brother,” Pastrnak said. “He’s one of the closest friends I’ve got. At first, I was idolizing him coming into the league. I was young and learning from him every day. … He helped me grow as a human and as a player.”

Especially after the result was in no longer in doubt, Pastrnak kept looking for Krejci on offense, trying to get him a goal for his 1,000th game.

Krejci tried. He shared the Bruins’ lead with four shots on net. But perhaps fittingly, game No. 1,000 showcased the things that have made Krejci elite. He had three assists and won seven of 10 faceoffs in Boston’s 6-0 win.

“He’s a Bruins legend. He showed why tonight,” Bruins Coach Jim Montgomery said. “He makes everyone around him better.”

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