CHICAGO — As a young, exceptionally talented Czech hockey player, it’s no surprise that David Krejci grew up idolizing his countryman Jaromir Jagr.
“Every time they showed hockey on TV, it was always Pittsburgh,” said Krejci, now 27, of his 41-year-old teammate. “I don’t remember any other team.”
During his first two NHL seasons, Jagr played for a Stanley Cup winner for the Penguins. Now his chance for a third Cup is partly dependent on Krejci, the leading scorer this postseason (9-12–21) and a Conn Smythe candidate.
“He’s really big in Czech,” Krejci said, “Especially 20 years ago when he won the two Cups, it was always about him. I wasn’t watching the games live. I guess because of those two years when he won, after that it was just him.
“If you ask any hockey player from Czech who is my age something like that, everybody is going to say that Jagr is their favorite player. I’m glad he’s still playing and I’m on his team right now.”
Krejci and Jagr were teammates at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver. They have played little together — just on the power play — since Jagr was acquired by the Bruins during the season.
“We played together a few years ago for the Czech team in the Olympics,” Krejci said. “That was the first time I met him. Obviously, I was nervous. But it was a quick tournament. Then he got here. We got closer.”
The admiration is mutual.
“You know, he’s a great player,” Jagr said. “I don’t think he’s getting enough credit the way he plays. He proves it year after year in the playoffs, he’s playing his best hockey in the playoffs.”