Thursday, October 6, 2011
Mutual respect between Jagr and Krejci
By James Murphy
BOSTON -- When the Bruins take on the Flyers tonight in the 2010-11 season opener, Bruins center and Czech Republic native, David Krejci will get another shot at playing against his boyhood idol Jaromir Jagr, and it’s a shot he doubted he would have again. After three seasons in the KHL in Russia, Jagr signed with the Flyers this past summer and Krejci along with the entire Czech Republic was excited to learn he would be an NHLer once again.
“I kind of thought he would come back earlier, that maybe he would only spend a year or two in Russia, but he decided to stay three years,” Krejci said following the team’s game day skate. “I was hoping he was going to come back but I wasn’t sure. The people back home in Czech talked about it all summer and I’m really excited. I’m happy he’s back here and I wish him all the best but tonight I’m going to play against him like all the other opponents.”
In Jagr, Krejci sees a 39 year-old wily veteran that can still utilize his skill and size and one that is motivated to prove he still belongs in a younger and faster NHL. But Krejci also wanted Jagr to know that will be difficult to do Thursday night against him and the Bruins.
“He’s a big body and once he gets going it’s tough to stop him. He proved it in Russia that he can still play hockey and he also proved it in the preseason games. We know he’s here to play hockey and he’s ready to go. He wants to prove so many people wrong and I’m sure he’s ready to go. He’s a great player but he’s going to have a tough night tonight.”
Following the Flyers skate, Jagr had nothing but praise for the younger 25 year-old Krejci.
“I really think he is the best of the younger Czech players in the NHL right now,” Jagr said. “Today the NHL is so much faster but he’s not just fast, he is a smart player. He has great vision and is hard on the puck too.”
Jagr has played with Krejci on the Czech National team and said he has enjoyed watching the younger Krejci develop. Krejci’s 23 points in 25 playoff games during the Bruins Cup run last season put him in a higher echelon not only of Czech players but NHL players according to Jagr.
“You know he is really one of the premiere Czech players like I said and then you saw how he took his game to another level in the playoffs last year and I think he should be viewed as a top center here too,” Jagr said. “I have enjoyed playing with him and even though I didn’t get to watch him too much, I saw the playoffs and could see how much better he is. He has that confidence now and will only get better.”
ESPNBoston.com's Joe McDonald contributed to this report.