In sports, a team is as good as its leaders are and the Boston Bruins found that out first hand in 2020-21. Last season the Black and Gold struggled with different obstacles during the 56-game shortened season with injuries, a COVID-19 shutdown, and inconsistent play from some of their top players. Through it all, captain Patrice Bergeron and alternate captains Brad Marchand and David Krejci made sure that their teammates kept their focus to earn a playoff berth.
As Boston gets ready to begin training camp for the 2021-22 season, they will need to replace Krejci’s leadership and alternate captain vacancy after he decided over the summer to not return to the Bruins for his 16th season. He will instead continue his career in his home country of the Czech Republic to be closer to his family and it will be interesting to see who coach Bruce Cassidy decides to give the second “A” and look to for leadership with Marchand. Here are some candidates to assume that role.
Without a doubt the Bruins’ best defenseman, McAvoy is still just 23 years old, but he is entering his fifth year in the league. When Torey Krug left in free agency for the St. Louis Blues last offseason and Zdeno Chara followed two months later to the Washington Capitals, McAvoy was looked upon as the new leader on the blueline and he didn’t disappoint in 2020-21.
In his sophomore season of 2016-17 at Boston University, he wore the “A” for the Terriers, before forgoing his final two years at BU to sign his entry-level contract with the Bruins. He plays aggressively, but is always someone who plays the game the right way. Nobody would disagree if Boston makes the 14th overall pick of the 2016 draft their second alternate captain.
Acquired from the Minnesota Wild at the trade deadline in February of 2019, the Boston native goes about his business as a professional. He did wear the “A” last season when Krejci missed some time and even was named an alternate captain in February of 2020 when the Bruins made their yearly trip to play the Wild on the road.
The 2020-21 season was tough for Coyle who played the season with an injured knee. He underwent offseason surgery and should be ready for training camp later this month. Entering his 10th season in the NHL, the 28th overall pick by the Wild in the 2010 draft could not only replace Krejci as the second-line center, but also as an alternate captain.
Even though he has just 16 games under his belt as a Bruin following last April’s trade from the Buffalo Sabres, don’t be surprised if the former No. 1 overall pick of the Edmonton Oilers in 2010 is considered. He has served as an alternate captain with both the Oilers for multiple years and New Jersey Devils in 2018-19, a year after winning the Hart Trophy.
Entering his 12th NHL season, Hall signed a four-year, $24 million contract in July to stay in Boston on the second line after scoring eight goals and dishing out six assists for the Bruins following the trade. Making him an alternate captain would not be a surprise as he is a veteran that has shown leadership during his career and putting him on a contending team brings out the best in him.
Could the Bruins give their third piece of the first line with Marchand and Bergeron the second “A”? It’s not out of the question. One of the best right wings in the league, the 25-year-old has 438 career games under his belt and is becoming one of the faces of the franchise.
Since breaking into the Boston lineup on a full-time basis, Pastrnak has gone about his business in a professional manner. In theory, having your captain and two alternates on the same line is something that is not seen much at all in the NHL, but there is always time for something new and different.
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Losing Krejci both on and off the ice is a big loss for the Bruins. They do have some leaders on the team that will easily slide into the leadership and alternate captain role for the 2021-22 season as they look to contend for the Stanley Cup with a veteran core. They could go with a young star or a veteran in Hall or Coyle. Who do you think they will choose? Leave a comment below.
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.