When the National Hockey League season was paused on March 12 amid the worldwide coronavirus pandemic, there was (and still is) no idea what is going happen to the remainder of each team’s 10 to 12 regular-season games. The playoffs were and are also still are up in the air as well.
While the answers to those questions are still nowhere in sight, we just don’t know what is going to happen. What we do know is that at some point this summer or next fall, the NHL will eventually transition to their offseason. When that happens, the free agency bonanza will begin.
Related: Boston Bruins’ Coaching History
This year should be an interesting offseason for the Boston Bruins, who have a bunch of free agents they need to make a decision on. Torey Krug is the biggest decision facing general manager Don Sweeney, while the future of captain Zdeno Chara is also on that list too. Chara is expected to return for another season in Boston, but the question still has to be asked, “Who is the next Bruins captain once Chara does retire?” Who would wear the “C” next in Boston? Let’s look at some options.
This is the obvious choice on the current roster. Bergeron is the longest-tenured athlete in Boston since New England Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady left for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers after 20 years with the team.
The leadership that Bergeron provides both on the ice and in the locker room is valuable. He is consistently one of the best Bruins players and centers the league’s top line with David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand. He has been through the ups and downs with the Bruins since he has been in the league.
He was drafted 45th overall in the second round of the 2003 Entry Draft and immediately broke into the Bruins lineup the following season. He has won four Selke Trophies and that number could be higher. He has been an alternate captain for over a decade and it’s a no-brainer for the Bruins to put the “C” on his jersey when Chara retires.
Why It Will Happen
Bergeron is one of the most respected players not only in the Bruins locker room but in the NHL. He has all the qualities to be a captain in the National Hockey League and he has professionalism both on and off the ice. He has paid his dues to be a team leader.
Drafted in the second round and 63rd overall in the 2004 Entry Draft, Krejci broke into the Bruins lineup on a full-time basis at the beginning of the 2007-08 season. Only Bergeron has blocked him from being a first-line center on every shift with the Bruins.
Krejci has been an alternate captain with Bergeron and is just as much a veteran leader as Bergeron is. He is one of the game’s best second-line centers and makes has rotated through many different linemates his season and in his career without a complaint. He has come up big in the playoffs and set the tone in the 2011 Stanley Cup championship run through the playoffs with 12 goals and 11 assists in 25 games.
Why It Will Happen
One of the game’s best playmakers, Krejci also has the respect of his teammates and the league as well. He has the ability to make everyone around him better. Another one of the Bruins’ leaders both on and off the ice.
I know, I know. Krug is a free agent and there is a lot surrounding where he will be suiting up next season. Will the Bruins give in to him and sign him to deal that he’s looking for? Will he take a hometown discount to remain in Boston or will he hit the open market and make his way back home to Michigan and sign with the Detroit Red Wings? Nobody knows, but if he comes back to Boston, it’s not far too fetched that he gets the “C” on his jersey.
Krug was an undrafted free agent that the Bruins signed out of Michigan State University after his junior season in 2012. Undersized at 5-foot-9 and 186 pounds, he hasn’t let that stop him from turning into one of the best offensive defensemen in the league.
He has moved around the Bruins top-four defensive pairings, but he has been one of the most consistent defensemen they have. Krug makes the Boston power play, which is ranked second in the league, go with 26 assists as the only defenseman on the first unit. At 29 years old and if he signs a long-term deal to remain in Boston, he could the captain for the duration of his contract and beyond.
Why It Will Happen
Krug has to resign with the Bruins, but if he does, naming him the next captain is not too far fetched. An offensive defenseman, he has grown into one of the best two-way defensemen and is a big part of the Bruins’ success. The younger of the three players, he would stabilize their defense and locker room for years to come.
Moving Parts Will Eventually Happen
There would have to a lot of moving parts for any of these three to be named next Boston Bruins captain. Chara would have to retire and be ready to pass the torch. At 43 years old, the time will come soon enough for Chara to go off into the sunset and the new leader of the Bruins to be named. When that happens, the Bruins have solid choices to choose from. Chara was named captain before he even took the ice for the Bruins in one game after signing a free-agent contract in 2006. Anything is possible.
Scott Roche covers the Boston Bruins for The Hockey Writers. A frequent user of the Oxford comma. Scott has been a sports writer for 25 years for different sites and daily newspapers. Writing started out as a hobby, but it has become a passion for Scott over the years.