Taylor Hall found immediate chemistry with David Krejci and Craig Smith on the Bruins’ second line after being acquired at last season’s trade deadline, with the trio outscoring opponents 13-1 at five-on-five in 16 regular-season games together.
It’s hard not to think about what might have been had they gotten a full season together. That, of course, won’t happen now, with Krejci electing to move home to the Czech Republic for this season rather than re-sign with the Bruins.
Hall and Smith will likely remain together, but now they’ll have a new center. Charlie Coyle is expected to get the first crack at that job, but others (Jack Studnicka, Nick Foligno, Erik Haula) could get a look at some point.
Hall made it clear when he re-signed that while he would’ve liked to continue playing with Krejci (who had not yet announced he was leaving at that point), his decision was made independent of Krejci’s plans.
Hall reiterated that notion on Friday, telling reporters that he never had any sort of promise that Krejci would be back.
“In signing here, I never had a guarantee that Krejci was going to be back,” Hall said. “I just wanted to play for this team and help this team win a Stanley Cup, hopefully. Whatever I have to do to contribute to that is what I’ll do, and I’m sure Smitty and whoever we’re playing with feels the same.”
Asked if he feels more pressure to lead the way on the second line and lift up whoever the center is, Hall said he always expects to drive play on whatever line he’s on and that nothing really changes in that respect.
“Honestly, it doesn’t really change my preparation and my focus for the year,” Hall said. “My job’s to come in and play as well as I can. Whatever line I’m slotted in, hopefully I can drive that line like I have in the past. Whoever the center is, I imagine I’ll play with Smitty on the right side. I think that we can work with anyone.”
Hall and Krejci became good friends off the ice as well as on it in their brief time together, and Hall said he’s happy for Krejci on a personal level.
“He did it for the right reasons. As a person, you support him, as a friend,” Hall said. “Like I said, I had no idea what he was going to do, and I didn’t even really ask him about it or tell him what I was gonna do. I wanted him to come back for the right reasons if that’s what he was gonna do. I think for him, he’s probably having a blast playing back home. I have no idea what it’s like to move to a different continent at 16, 17 and never really go back home and play there. I’m sure he’s having a blast.”
Hall acknowledged the rumors of Krejci possibly returning at some point, but doesn’t sound like someone who’s putting much stock in them or sitting around waiting for it to happen.
“I don’t know if we’ll ever see him back here again,” Hall said. “I know there’s a lot of speculation, but honestly, I think everyone in our dressing room wishes him all the best.”
Hall, meanwhile, is happy knowing Boston will be his home for the next four years. He said his new contract gives him some peace of mind that he hasn’t had in a few years.
“Yeah, it’s the first time in a while, probably the first time since '18-'19. So a couple years now of coming into a season not really knowing where I’d be the following year,” Hall explained. “My last season with the Devils, I knew that a trade was probably imminent. And then last year with COVID and the way things happened, I kind of knew a trade was probably gonna happen.
“So it’s been great to come to Boston 10 days before camp, move into a place that I know I’m gonna be in for a while. Just to kind of settle into a home base, it’s not something you’re going to see on the scoresheet the first five games, but just mentally it’s a lot easier for an athlete when he’s more settled and he’s comfortable and can just worry about playing.”