There’s obviously plenty riding on whether or not the NHL can restart the 2019-20 regular season and playoffs after its indefinite shutdown due to the coronavirus.
For defenseman Torey Krug, it either means trying to help lead Boston on another deep run in the Stanley Cup Playoffs or maybe never playing for the Bruins again.
Just over a month ago, he was intently focused on the former, while ignoring the latter. Now with the sport indefinitely suspended due to coronavirus concerns, Krug, who’ll be an in-demand unrestricted free agent after the season, doesn’t know what’s coming next.
Krug, his wife Melanie, daughter Saylor and dog Fenway are in Michigan with his in-laws trying to stay in shape — and hoping good news isn’t far off.
“I just hope we can get back and playing and have an opportunity to win a cup,” said Krug, who was a big reason the Bruins had the best record in the NHL before the shutdown. “This group we have here in Boston is special. I think there are a lot of other teams around the league that feel the same way.”
Well before the pandemic arrived, Krug repeatedly said he hopes to reach a deal with the Bruins. But the economic hit the NHL is absorbing from the shutdown could shrink the salary cap, leaving Boston even less room to sign him.
“I really hope I did not play my last game as a Boston Bruin. It’s been a special place for me and my family, to grow my love for the game in front of these fans who are very special to me,” said Krug, who met with the Boston media via Zoom Tuesday. “I was just in the moment playing games trying to help my team win a championship. Now with the season pause, I’ve definitely wondered what’s going to happen.”
Krug said the time off hasn’t led to the resumption to contract negotiations, at least not yet.
Until someone tells him otherwise, he’s focused on this season. If the NHL does come back, whatever playoff format they use would currently have the Bruins as the top seed with the NHL’s best record. Krug is fine with whatever playoff format the league decides on.
“For me, as long as everyone is in a situation where the playing field is level and we’re all able to compete for a Stanley Cup, I don’t know how it’s going to play out,” he said. “It’s an opportunity to get creative and see what we come up with.”
If they do come back, the time off might have helped the Bruins, who had some players, including Krug, banged up when the league when dark on March 11.
“I’m trying to lick my wounds and heal up as best I can in case we do get a chance to come back and have playoffs,” said Krug, who had nine goals and 49 points before the shutdown. “I feel really good. I’m healthy right now. I think I have a few hurdles I have to jump over when I get back to be officially cleared. But I’m fully healthy and able to train as well as I can here at home.”
As badly as he wants to finish the year, Krug is still thinking of the bigger picture.
“We have to put that aside and realize there’s something bigger here. If we do have the opportunity to get back to playing, let’s be safe about it. … No one wants to jump back into a situation where we put a bunch of people in one area and this thing takes off again,” he said. “Frequent testing is something that would probably help. But we have to make sure it’s really safe to even get to that point.”