Torey Krug and Bruins face delicate contract negotiations: “Your mind wanders”


Torey Krug’s four-year-old bulldog interrupts the Boston Bruins interview on Tuesday with a sharp bark.

“We named our dog Fenway,” smiles the defender in quarantine. “How much more can Boston get?” “

As an imminent unrestricted free agent approaching the most volatile of the open markets, and with NHL activities still trying to operate behind closed doors, Fenway’s bark provides respite for the crickets between Bruins management and the most valuable left defender targeting UFA status.

“There was no discussion” about a possible contract extension, said Krug, between club general manager Don Sweeney and his agent, Lewis Gross, during the break. “I’m very optimistic, and as I always said, I want to be part of this group and this locker room and the city. It has become our home and we love it. “

Until Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19 and the world of sports was silenced on March 12, Krug, 29, played his hand perfectly.

Although he grew up in Livonia, Michigan, where he took turns at each road hockey position – fantasizing, in turn, like Steve Yzerman, Nick Lidstrom, Darren McCarty and Chris Osgood – the undrafted Krug completely embraced Boston . He considers himself lucky to rely on big names like Ray Bourque and Zdeno Chara for advice and expresses his loyalty to the organization whenever a hot microphone is in sight.

Krug regularly participates in the team’s chapel group (now online). On Tuesday, he was thrilled with the cheerful tweets that awaited during the afternoon’s first Zoom call. He remembered his epic flight and his helmetless track record of Robert Thomas in the 2019 Stanley Cup final (“The greatest adrenaline rush I have felt in my hockey career”). And he said with pride, “We think we are the best team in the league. “

Only five feet nine with good posture, a flea forever implanted on his shoulder, Krug never had much security. Winning his role on the scariest power game in hockey the hard way, Krug’s first two post-entry contracts were for one year only. He always had something to prove.

Finally enjoying four seasons of security in 2016, Krug is now a bargain with a ceiling of $ 5.25 million. He had to negotiate with the leverage of four consecutive seasons by 50 points and a reputation for increasing his contributions when the stakes are highest.

Suddenly, he will tiptoe into a thorny NHL financial landscape devastated by a virus. And Sweeney – officially recognized as wishing “dearly” to keep Krug in the fold – will have to peel a star into an expected fixed salary cap of $ 81.5 million.

Boston has already committed approximately $ 60 million for the 2020-2021 roster on 17 players. This is before making decisions on the RFA Jake DeBrusk, Matt Grzelcyk and Anders Bjork (all worthy of revivals), as well as the UFA Krug, Chara, Joakim Nordstrom, Kevan Miller and Jaroslav Halak.

Chara, 43, wants to continue trucking. Sweeney says he will try to bring Miller back. And if the Bruins can’t afford Halak, they’ll have to pay someone to spot Tuukka Rask.

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Krug preaches about living in the moment, but the break has given him time to think about where he, his wife Mélanie and their 10-month-old daughter, Saylor, will live next winter.

Does he still delay a short-term home contract, knowing that the Bruins’ books could disappear in 2022, when the Rask and David Krejci $ 7 million deals expire and the cap could start climbing again? Does he plan to take calls from a number of competitors, like talent-hungry Detroit, his childhood team?

“I never thought about it during the season and while we were playing,” said Krug. “Now that you have a second to sit down, you’re wondering a little more. Your mind wanders.

“Someone upstairs is just testing our patience a bit.” We always assumed that we would have at least some sort of response by July 1, and who knows if we will by then. “

There is the catch: nobody knows. This is why Boston could have the most to lose if 2019-20 is incomplete.

The cruel irony here – and we touched on this earlier in the break – is that stars like Krug, Alex Pietrangelo and Taylor Hall, who previously positioned themselves for auction wars, could end up being worse than the FMUs that came up mid-season.

Take, for example, arguably the second most coveted left defender to the UFA.

Jake Muzzin signed again with Toronto for four years and $ 22.5 million just 18 days before the NHL closed. Muzzin considers himself fortunate to have put paper on the pen when he did it, “before all that”, instead of postponing his fate until July 1.

“The unknown and the uncertainty of what will happen in the future, I think it will weigh on me. And I think it weighs on some guys, “said Muzzin on Tuesday.

“Like, I don’t know if the guys are going to get what they think they should get, or if it’s going to be okay. Or if something will change radically. Maybe you have to structure a deal differently, I don’t do it I think for me, I don’t have that, because I had the chance to make a deal before. “

Despite the mystery of his future, the championship Bruins and all the sport, Krug wakes up early to train and does his best to enjoy this bonus time with Melanie and Saylor and Fenway.

Even if what should have been an imposing grand slam contract ends up being knocked down by an invisible green monster.

“You just hope and pray that we can have a chance to finish this thing,” says Krug, “and to achieve this ultimate goal. “


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