Patrice Bergeron has played 16 seasons for the Boston Bruins, so he's seen many players leave the organization via free agency, trades and retirement.
However, it's still difficult when a teammate and friend departs, especially when that player spent nearly a decade with the Bruins.
Veteran defenseman Torey Krug left the Bruins in NHL free agency last week to sign a seven-year, $45.5 million contract with the St. Louis Blues. It was a well-deserved deal for a player hitting unrestricted free agency for the first time.
Krug's absence on Boston's blue line won't just be felt on the ice, where he was a consistent offensive threat and played with the type of physicality/competitiveness that B's fans adore. The 29-year-old defenseman also was a tremendous leader on and off the ice.
In a recent Q&A with Fluto Shinzawa of The Athletic, Bergeron touched on several offseason topics, including Krug's departure in free agency.
"It’s always the same thing, especially when it’s a guy who’s been around for a while. You’re sad. You’re going to miss, first of all, the person," Bergeron said of Krug leaving. "A lot of people are thinking, “Oh, a left-shot defenseman, a power-play guy,” all that stuff. I’m thinking more about the person and the friendship we’ve built. To lose that, that’s going to be hard. It’s no secret we’re going to miss him as a player and as a guy.
"That being said, it’s the business we’re in. It’s tough to control that. You have no control over that as a player. You trust management, Don, Cam (Neely) and the rest to go with their plan. You wish nothing but the best to Torey. We’ll keep in touch. Over nine years, that’s when you create a bond. Also with our families — our kids, his daughter."
The Bruins have not yet replaced Krug.
The only blue line moves the B's have made in the offseason include re-signing Kevan Miller -- who hasn't played since April of 2019 due to knee injuries -- and re-signing Jakub Zboril, a 2015 first-round pick who has failed to meet expectations.
Bruins defenseman Matt Grzelcyk is a restricted free agent and has filed for salary arbitration. B's captain Zdeno Chara is an unrestricted free agent, and his agent recently told TSN that the 43-year-old defenseman is "looking at all options" in free agency.
It's been a disappointing offseason for the Bruins, to say the least. Krug leaving was the first move that weakened Boston's roster, and it might not be the last before next season.