A whole lot can change in the span of a single year.
It's a sentiment that I'm sure all of us can attest to these days — and it's a dose of reality that looms over the state of the Boston Bruins.
You know, the team that — while reaping the benefits of two extended Cup windows over the past decade — has still been bracing itself for the inevitable fork in the road that awaits every franchise when the time comes to either hit the reset button or ride off into the sunset with am aging (and eventually declining) core.
And while Don Sweeney opted to drive straight through said fork in the road last month by adding to this talented (albeit flawed) roster without relinquishing a haul of future assets, plenty has changed when it comes to charting the best course for this team in what is shaping up to a pivotal offseason.
A little over a year ago — back when most of us were still confined to our apartments and biding our time with "The Last Dance" — the writing appeared to be on the wall when it came to how Boston was going to tackle one of the top dominos set to fall in the summer of 2021: David Krejci's future and the potential vacancy at the second-line pivot spot.
Krejci, who once hinted that he wanted to end his pro career back in his native Czech Republic once his six-year, $43.5-million contract with Boston expired, pushed back on said rumors when speaking to the media via Zoom in April 2020 — opening the door for the lifetime Bruin to continue donning a black-and-gold sweater for years to come.
“My contract expires after next year, right? Whatever happens with this season, but then one more (year) after that. And then we’ll see,” Krejci said. “I mean, I’m not planning on retiring, that’s for sure. I want to play after that, how long or what’s going to happen? I don’t know. I guess we’ll see what happens after that next year — but definitely not planning on going into the next season as it being my last.”
Of course, while Krejci's return was far from being ruled out — one could see a similar scenario as the one that played out months later when Boston let Torey Krug walk in free agency, opting instead to fill a crucial spot in the lineup with other pieces currently on the roster or in the team's pipeline.
After all, the thinking going into this COVID-shortened season was that Charlie Coyle (coming off of a dominant 2019 playoff run and a strong 2019-20 campaign) was going to be ready to take the reins as a 2C in a post-Krejci era — a plan validated by the six-year, $31.5 million deal that Boston handed the Weymouth native in November 2019. And waiting in the wings was top prospect Jack Studnicka, who was poised to carve out a regular role up in the NHL ranks this season.
But again — what a difference a year can make.