According to head coach Claude Julien, the agreement appears to have been reached last night because Julien was informed late Sunday night that he would have Krug and Smith on the ice at practice on Monday morning. Of course this means that Bruins management still has a lot of decisions to make in regard to the final 23-man roster.
When training camp began there were listed a total 53 players (including the then unsigned Krug and Smith). There have been two groups of 11 released during the last week, the first on the September 25 and the second on September 28, which brought the roster down to 29 (31 if Krug and Smith were counted). And Monday after practice while Peter Chiarelli addressed the press, he revealed that Ville Leino had been released in the morning from his tryout agreement. Later in the day came the announcement that defenseman Chris Breen had also been released from camp—though his release means he will go to Providence where the Providence Bruins are holding camp.
So again the roster stands at 29 and there are at least six more players who will be getting disappointing news.
However, Monday was a day for good news and it was clear that both Krug and Smith were happy to finally join their teammates on the ice and it appeared that their teammates were likewise happy to see the two late arrivals.
After practice, Captain Zdeno Chara was asked about their arrivals.
“It’s nice to have the core complete team out there and you could see that both of them were happy and glad to be back,” said Chara. “It’s nice to see.”
When talking with Krug, it was clear that he was glad to be back, as was Smith. Like all hockey players their truest joy is to play the game. Of course it is also a business and in this instance the business got in the way of the game they love so much.
Krug was asked about the timing of his return.
“I think at some point you gotta get in here and make sure you’re prepared for the upcoming season and it got to be that time and we talked to [Chiarelli] a lot over the last few days, we decided to come to the deal we reached and we’re very happy to be here,” Krug responded. “I was very excited to walk in the room and see all the guys and be back in this great city. So I’m very happy with how things worked out.”
And Smith alluded to how the business aspects of the negotiations were taking their toll when asked if it was hard to see others skating with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand—whom Smith had called line mates last season.
“It’s more than just the line mates I had last year, but it is everyone being here and not being able to be a part of that,” Smith said. “It’s a tough thing. Days are really long. I’ll tell you that for sure. It seemed like every twenty minutes I was looking at my phone and every time I was getting off the ice I was checking to see if there was any new messages and anything going forward in negotiations so it was tough. Long days. Pretty anxious for most of it so, just glad all of it is behind me now.”
Both of them were thrilled be back on the ice.
“It was good. It was tough at first,” Krug shared. “I was a little nervous, which I was surprised about but it’s just about being back in the season, looking forward to things, be on the ice with those guys. I settled down later on and I felt good at the end.”
While training camp went on without Krug and Smith, it was clear that the Bruins organization, though wanting to include the two players, were moving forward. And with the depth the Bruins have in players, the reality that almost everyone is replaceable was a definite possibility in this situation. Krug was asked about this.
“Yah, I mean. You know anybody can look at our team and say… You know the depth we have on defense they’d be fine without me.” he said. “I’m pretty sure everyone was confident in the guys that were here. You know it’s the same thing when we go through a season and there’s injuries and you gotta call a guy up. Everyone’s confident in the guys that are coming up from Providence. It’s a great group.”
And Smith acknowledged the depth and went on to expand on how the one-year contract is motivation.
“I’m coming into the season pretty excited. You know there was a lot of opportunity here and that’s the one thing about having a one-year deal. You know that you’re pushing for your job for next year,” Smith told media. “I have high expectations for myself especially. It’s gonna be a long season like the last one was. To make it a good 82 games you know my body has to be in peak physical condition so that’s the way I think I trained this summer.”
Now all that remains is for Chiarelli and his group to pare down the roster to a maximum of 23 players in the coming days, as training camp and the preseason wind down.