He suited up blue and gold for the last two seasons. Yet, seeing Torey Krug in a different uniform Tuesday night must have felt a little awkward for some of the loyal Bruins supporters wearing black and gold.
Krug didn’t return to Boston during his first season with the St. Louis Blues because of the pandemic-altered 2021 campaign. His journey back to the Hub took an interesting turn in late March after sustaining an upper-body injury against the Washington Capitals on Mar. 22.
St. Louis coach Craig Berube labeled Krug as a game-time decision for his return on Tuesday. Krug took the ice for warmups after missing the team’s last 10 games. Alas, he found himself starting the night next to Justin Faulk in his first game back from injury and his return to a place he called home for seven seasons.
Krug received the welcome-back treatment from the TD Garden faithful. The Bruins played a montage for Krug’s return that ironically included his helmetless hit on Blues winger Robert Thomas in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final in 2019.
David Pastrnak shared an Instagram story highlighting his reunion with Krug the night before. A handful of other former teammates caught up with Krug before Tuesday’s puck drop.
But much like Zdeno Chara’s return to Boston as a member of the Washington Capitals, reality hit the two parties during a pivotal late-season matchup.
“[I’ll] give him a smile at warmups,” Brandon Carlo, Krug’s defensive partner for the better part of three seasons, said following Boston’s pregame skate. “But after that, it’s a Zdeno Chara mentality. There are no friends on the ice.”
There weren’t any hard feelings between Krug and his former teammates after the former signed a seven-year contract with an annual $6.5 million cap hit in the 2020 off-season. But Krug reportedly had a murky exit from Boston, confirming he knew he’d have to continue his career elsewhere upon inking his new deal.
The Bruins tried to place Krug from within with Matt Grzelcyk handling more top-four responsibilities. They added Hampus Lindholm to solidify their top-four on the back-end. Both missed Tuesday’s tilt as they continue to nurse their respective upper-body ailments.
Boston’s power play entered Tuesday amid their worst funk of the season. But the top man-advantage unit hasn’t lost a significant step in Krug’s absence with Charlie McAvoy serving as the point man and Taylor Hall moving to a net-front role to compliment Pastrnak, Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron when everyone is healthy.
Amid all the moving parts, the Blues wanted to earn another win on Garden ice. It wasn’t a winner-take-all Game 7 scenario, but they wanted to come away with two points for their returning teammate.
“It’s an awkward feeling when you’re that guy coming back to a building you’ve played so much in,” St. Louis captain Ryan O’Reilly said. “For us, it’s taking care of [business]. We want to work hard for him and win tonight and make it easy for him. But it’s an awkward situation, and we want to help him out the best we can.”
The Blues helped Krug out with a 4-2 win over his former team.
And Krug, well, he produced the timely offense that Bruins fans witnessed during his seven seasons.
The birthday boy earned a goal and an assist in his first game back at TD Garden since donning black and gold for the final time at home on Mar. 6, 2020, Boston’s last home game before the COVID-19 quarantine era.
“It was fun,” Krug said to reporters afterward. “Obviously a lot of different emotions throughout the day and stuff. It’s been a while since I’ve been back here in the building, so it was capped off pretty nicely with a win for us.”
Tim Rosenthal serves as the Managing Editor of Bruins Daily. He started contributing videos to the site in 2010 before fully coming on board during the Bruins' Stanley Cup run in 2011. His bylines over the last decade have been featured on Boston.com, FoxSports.com, College Hockey News, Patch and Inside Hockey. You can follow Tim on Twitter @_TimRosenthal.
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