BOSTON — Center David Krejci and winger Phil Kessel, two of the Boston Bruins’ up-and-coming offensive stars, are both headed for offseason surgeries that will postpone the start of their 2009-10 season.
Krejci played the entire season with a balky right hip, that he says probably got worse over the last four or five years. Kessel suffered a torn rotator cuff and labrum when he was hit by Columbus defenseman Jan Hejda March 10. Both stars are expected to need at least four to six months to recover.
Still, Krejci was the Bruins’ second-leading scorer with 73 points and Kessel led the team with 36 goals. But both were obviously limited by the time they got to the seven-game, second-round defeat to Carolina.
“It hurts. It’s not an easy thing; it’s painful,” said Kessel, who actually played five games with the injury before sitting out five contests and then returning. “Obviously I can’t really do much with the left side of my body. A lot of time playing out there, it hurt.”
Kessel said that wearing a harness actually made the pain worse. So he went without it and tried to make his mind win out over matter.
“Obviously you try to (block it out). Obviously it’s hard because it’s not a little injury. … It’s tough, but what are you going to do? You have surgery when it happens or you try to play,” he said.
Krejci admitted there were days he thought he wasn’t going to be able to play and would have to succumb to surgery during the regular season.
“Playing wasn’t fun. It was getting worse and worse,” said Krejci. “During the season, there was a point where it was really bad and I was, like after the morning skate, before the game, I was like, ‘Wow, if it didn’t get better than that, there’s no way I can play.’ But somehow I got 82 games. It’s amazing; I don’t know how. And in the playoffs, the second round, they had to give me shots before every game.”
Krejci added that when the game would start he would be able to forget about the injury. He treated every game as though it could be his last to make sure he gave 100 percent. But after practices and morning skates, he’d limp home unsure of what the next day would bring.
Krejci’s frame of mind is solid knowing that Boston Red Sox third baseman Mike Lowell had similar surgery and was able to make it back to action the following spring. He’s also confident his own strong physical condition will make recovery quicker.
Kessel and Krejci have more than upcoming surgeries in common. Both are scheduled to be restricted free agents July 1 if they don’t have new deals signed by then. They’re both in for hefty raises after their breakout seasons and both players said they’re confident something will get done to keep them in black and gold.
General manager Peter Chiarelli said the injury news won’t affect his approach to getting both players signed.
“I would say they’re questionable to start the season, based on their surgeries and prognosis. As far as their contracts go, I don’t see anything being different other than the fact they probably won’t be playing when the teams starts. I would expect to take the normal course with them and try and get them signed. … I don’t anticipate there being any issues.”