Respected captain Bergeron returns to Bruins on 1-year deal loaded with incentives
3rd in team history with 1,216 regular-season games played; Krejci also re-signs
The Boston Bruins are getting the gang back together, signing captain Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci — two members of their 2011 Stanley Cup championship team — to one-year deals on Monday.
Almost three months after he left the ice without any certainty that he would return, Bergeron signed a one-year deal with the Bruins. A few hours later, the team announced that Krejci, who played last season in his native Czechia, will also be back in 2022-23.
"Obviously, we're great friends and we go way back," Bergeron said in a video conference with reporters. "I'm super excited to get going with him and also the rest of the guys."
Bergeron got a $2.5 million deal with $2.5 million in incentives and Krejci gets $1 million with the potential for $2 million more. Bergeron is fourth on the Bruins' all-time scoring list with 982 points, and Krejci is ninth with 730.
"Obviously, I wanted to play. But I wanted to play with the Boston Bruins and that's because I believe in this team," Bergeron said. "A historical team is the only motivation you need, to leave this jersey in a better place."
The Bruins also announced a one-year deal for forward Pavel Zacha with a cap hit of $3.5 million. Zacha, 25, scored 15 goals with 21 assists for New Jersey last year; Boston acquired him in the off-season in a trade for forward Erik Haula.
Bergeron, 37, and Krejci, 36, led the Bruins to the 2011 NHL championship and two other trips to the Stanley Cup final. Boston was eliminated in the first round of the playoffs by the Carolina Hurricanes on May 14 and fired coach Bruce Cassidy three weeks later.
Jim Montgomery was hired to replace Cassidy, and the new coach said at his introductory news conference Bergeron was his first call. Team CEO Charlie Jacobs said Bergeron was expected to return.
"So, fingers crossed," he said in July.
Bergeron has 400 goals and 582 assists — all with the Bruins, who selected him in the second round of the 2003 draft. Since then, he has established himself as one of the most respected players in the game.
When he does leave, the Bruins are expected to retire his No. 37, making him the 12th player so honoured. He is a likely first-ballot inductee for the Hockey Hall of Fame as soon as he is eligible.
But now that won't be until at least 2026.
4th in club history in goals, assists, points
Krejci has 215 goals and 515 assists in 15 years in the NHL, also all with Boston, and led the Bruins in scoring during the 2011 Stanley Cup run with 12 goals and 11 assists in 25 games. Playing for HC Olomouc in his homeland last year, he led the team with 20 goals, 26 assists and 46 points in 51 games.
Bergeron is third in Bruins history with 1,216 regular-season games played, and fourth in goals, assists and points. He is second all-time for the Original Six franchise with 47 playoff goals and 123 points.
Bergeron's 11 straight seasons as a Selke finalist — including this year — is the longest streak of top three finishes for an NHL award, breaking Wayne Gretzky's record of 10 years in a row as an MVP finalist. (Gretzky won the Hart Trophy nine times).
Bergeron played 2021-22 without a future contract for the first time in his career, scoring 25 goals with 40 assists and helping the Bruins reach the playoffs for the 14th time in his 18 seasons. They were eliminated by the Hurricanes in seven games.
"That's why this one probably hurts more, the unknown for next year with him," forward Brad Marchand, the second-longest tenured player on the roster, said after the Game 7 loss.
"He's done so much for this group and sacrificed so much," Marchand said. "It would have been nice to make a good run for him. So, it's disappointing."
Bergeron was the last Boston player off the ice in Carolina, leading his teammates through the post-series handshake line with the Hurricanes and then remaining on the ice to give each of his teammates a hug.
But he said he hadn't decided about his future.
"It's tough when it ends like that," Bergeron said after the game. "It stings. It's not the feeling that you want. But that being said, we did it together."
He's the backbone of our team. ... So, yeah, we want him to come back.— Brad Marchand on fellow Bruins forward Patrice Bergeron after playoff exit in May
Bergeron. Krejci and Marchand are the only players from the 2011 Stanley Cup championship team left on the Bruins roster. Longtime captain Zdeno Chara left as a free agent in 2020 and goalie Tuukka Rask abandoned his comeback from hip surgery in the middle of this season.
The Bruins have 25-year-old David Pastrnak on offence, 24-year-old Charlie McAvoy on defence and 22-year-old Jeremy Swayman in net. Hampus Lindholm, 28, was acquired midseason to shore up the defence, and Marchand is still one of the league's most dangerous scorers at 33.
But losing Bergeron would have been the end of the most successful era in the team's history since the Big, Bad Bruins of Hall of Famers Bobby Orr, Phil Esposito, Gerry Cheevers and John Bucyk.
"He's the backbone of our team. He's obviously the biggest part of our team," Marchand said after the playoff exit. "So, yeah, we want him to come back. Whatever happens, he's earned the right to make whatever decision he wants and take whatever time that he needs."
Coyotes commit to Crouse long-term
The Arizona Coyotes have signed restricted free-agent forward Lawson Crouse to a five-year contract.
Terms of the deal announced Monday were not released. The six-foot-four, 215-pound forward signed hours before a scheduled arbitration hearing.
"He is a big, strong, skilled power forward and we look forward to him being a big part of our future," Coyotes general manager Bill Armstrong said.
Crouse had career highs of 20 goals and 14 assists last season, his sixth with the Coyotes. The 24-year-old from Mt. Brydges, Ont., led Arizona with 181 hits last season and has developed into a respected team leader since being traded from Florida in 2017.
Crouse has 56 goals and 110 points in 346 NHL regular-season games with the Coyotes. He was drafted 11th overall by the Panthers in 2015.
Lowry joins Kraken coaching staff
The Seattle Kraken have added former Winnipeg interim coach Dave Lowry to the coaching staff for the upcoming season, the team announced Monday.
Lowry spent most of last season as the interim head coach for the Jets. He took over on Dec. 17 and went 26-22-6 while in charge. Lowry had joined Winnipeg as an assistant coach before the start of the 2020 season.
He has also worked as an assistant with Los Angeles and Calgary, along with stints as a head coach with three different teams in the Western Hockey League.
Lowry spent 19 seasons as a player in the NHL with Vancouver, Calgary, St. Louis, Florida and San Jose.