Bruins general manager Don Sweeney is hopeful.
Sweeney told reporters on Friday that he’s hopeful he can get a deal done with defenseman Torey Krug to get him to stay in Boston for the future. He also said he’s hopeful that the NHL season will resume.
Sweeney also addressed the future of 43-year-old Zdeno Chara, who will be a free agent whenever the season ends, and defenseman Kevan Miller, who has missed the entire season due to knee injuries he suffered last season.
On Torey Krug
Krug’s contract will end whenever the 2019-20 NHL season ends. He will become an unrestricted free agent for the first time in his nine-year career.
“I dearly hope Torey hasn’t played his last game this year or going forward,” Sweeney said. “He’s been a big part of any success we’ve had as an organization. He’s a special player, both on and off the ice. He means a lot in the locker room, and I think everybody could acknowledge his attributes on the ice and his importance to our team.”
Sweeney’s comments echo what Krug said about wanting to stay in Boston earlier in the week.
“I really hope I did not play my last game as a Boston Bruin,” Krug told reporters on Tuesday. “It’s been a great place for me and my family to grow. My love for the game and playing in front of these fans, it’s been very special for me.”
Both Sweeney and Krug realize the complications of finding the right deal during this time, due in part to salary restrictions. The Bruins have a projected $22 million in cap space this offseason, according to Cap Friendly.
“We’ve had very, very good discussions with Torey’s group, but we just haven’t found a landing spot,” Sweeney said. “That’s understandable given the circumstances of where the cap is and his value, both to us and also in a potential open-market type situation.
“We’re hopeful that we will find a resolution with Torey, but at this point in time, we haven’t been able to do so. But it’s been very amicable and we’ve made our feeling perfectly clear that we respect and acknowledge what Torey has done and what he’s capable of doing for us as a member of the Boston Bruins and we hope that continues.”
On resuming the NHL season
The big question on every hockey fan’s mind is whether or not the NHL season will resume, and if it does, what it will it look like?
Sweeney is hopeful that hockey will return in some form this season.
“We’re hopeful and we’re still hopeful that we will have the ability to play regular-season games or some form of them in an exhibition format or concluding part or all of the season and then jumping into the playoffs,” Sweeney said.
If there is any team that should be hoping for hockey to return, it’s the Bruins, who led the league in points (100) when the league announced the suspension of the season on March 12.
Sweeney said that in order for the season to resume, health and government officials in both the United States and Canada will have to say it’s OK for hockey to be played. From there, Sweeney said it will fall on the league and its players to find a logistical way to conclude the season.
“I think everybody knows it’s going to take an extended training camp period of time to get back up to full speed,” Sweeney said. “First and foremost, we have to be healthy. We have to have standards in place to uphold and ensure the well-being of the players and the people, if they are allowed to attend games, and that they remain healthy. That has to be in the forefront of any decision-making and it will be.
“[NHL commissioner Gary Bettman] has made that pretty clear. But I do believe it’s going to take a partnership of the players and teams to be on the same page to find an equitable solution to resume.”
On Zdeno Chara
Krug isn’t the only big-name Bruins defenseman that will be a free agent this offseason. Chara, too, is set to hit free agency when the season concludes.
Chara told WEEI’s “Dale and Keefe” on Thursday that he wants to play hockey for “as long as [he] can and as long as [he has] fun and [he loves] the game.”
Sweeney said he heard a similar message from Chara.
“Even Zdeno himself has reported that he’d like to continue to play,” Sweeney said. “The really unique relationship that we have as an organization with Zdeno, and this started a bunch of years ago but really the last three or four in particular, is that he has exercised the ability to show patience, allow us to plan accordingly, and then adjust in his own contractual situation.”
Added Sweeney: “The ongoing dialogue has been very healthy with Zdeno.”
On Kevan Miller
Sweeney touched on the situation of a third defenseman as well.
Miller has missed the whole season and hasn’t played since April 2019, as he’s rehabbing a kneecap he broke twice last season. Even with the season’s timeline being pushed back, Sweeney said he does not see Miller playing this season.
“Kevan’s just had some setbacks to where I don’t believe at this time it would be in his best interest to try and ramp up in a short span with the hopes of playing this year,” Sweeney said. “Our intentions for Kevan are that he’s 100 percent healthy so that he can resume when we start the next season.”