David Krejci may still play hockey, just not in the NHL

BOSTON — If you paid close attention to David Krejci’s retirement announcement, then you likely noticed that he chose his words carefully. Instead of saying that he was retiring from the sport of hockey, the 37-year-old simply said he was retiring “from the best league in the world.”

That doesn’t mean Krejci is done playing entirely, and he laid out his potential plans for a return to the ice while speaking to the media on Tuesday.

“Yeah, it is,” Krejci said when asked if the door is still open for playing in Europe or international play. 

Krejci pointed out that the IIHF World Hockey World Championship will be held in Prague, in his native Czechia. krejci said that playing in that tournament  next May remains “in the back of my head.”

“I retired from the NHL because I know my body can’t take the whole season. I have things that I would have to get done which would involve surgeries, and at my age, I’m not ready to do that. I don’t want to do that anymore,” Krejci said.

Speaking from his home in South Carolina, Krejci said he’d remain there with his family for the near future, and he intends to celebrate Christmas there.

“If at some point around Christmas, I feel like, you know, let’s get ready, play a couple of months somewhere in Europe, get ready for the World Championship, that’s something I’m thinking about,” Krejci said. “If I decide to keep going then it would definitely be after New Year’s.”

Krejci admitted that he likely knew retirement was in the cards when he dealt with an injury late in the regular season, an issue which lingered with him through the playoffs, where he played in just four of the seven games.

“Well the decision was made I would say when my injuries started to happen at the end of the season, but I didn’t want to rush to my decision,” Krejci shared. “I really wanted to take my time and really think things over, because you don’t want to make decisions when the emotions are going through you. So I really wanted to take my time and wait for the right moment. I just realized there’s never a right time or right moment to retire from the NHL. But I felt like it was time. I knew my body couldn’t take 82 games anymore, and that was the decision.”

Krejci was also honest when discussing what he expects to go through emotionally when the NHL season begins without him this fall.

“It was honestly difficult,” he said of his decision. “Something you do all your life, and all of a sudden it’s gonna stop. I’m sure I’m gonna have some hard times moving forward, but that’s what family is here for, that’s what friends are for. And people have already reached out to me about retirement, what to kind of expect. So it is what it is.”

Krejci reflected on his near-20-year run with the Bruins organization, stating a sense of pride about what the team built during his tenure.

“TD Garden wasn’t sold out,” Krejci remembered of his visits to Boston as a spectator, when he was still playing for AHL Providence. “So I kind of take pride in this that my first few years, I was lucky to be on good teams. But we kind of brought people back, and ever since, it’s been amazing playing in front of the fans, sold-out arenas all the time. That’s kind of what I remember.”

And though that door is open for some international competition next year, Krejci stated with confidence that he gave everything he had to the Bruins and that retirement was not a decision that he made lightly.

“I’m gonna miss a lot of things. I’ve talked about how I’m gonna miss my teammates, that’s for sure,” he said. “But also as a kid, watching it on TV or reading about it in the papers, you want to make the NHL not just because it’s the best league in the world, it’s also the best stadiums in the world, the way they have it set up with the stadiums, the fans, the kind of whole package. Like I said, I don’t like to do interviews as much, but it’s part of that. And if you do interviews, that means you are doing something right, you made it somewhere. So the whole package that the NHL has to offer on a daily basis, I’m definitely going to miss that. But I have to listen to my body. My body is not ready to play the whole season, especially at the speed and level of the NHL.

“I just felt I gave it my all, played through some injuries last year,” Krejci added. “And I left everything I had there at the end. I know if I would come back to the NHL, I would definitely not be the same player I was last year.”

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