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David Krejci loved playing back home, but it was no NHL

01.11.13 at 12:07 pm ET
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David Krejci scored 16 goals in the Czech Extraliga. (AP)

WILMINGTON — The Bruins got another big name back on the ice Friday when center David Krejci, fresh off a stint with Pardubice HC, joined teammates at Ristuccia Arena.

Krejci, who hails from Šternberk of the former Czechoslovakia, said he enjoyed his time during the lockout. In addition to scoring scoring 16 goals with 11 assists for 27 points in 24 games, he got to spend Christmas and New Years with his family for the first time in 10 years, which meant a lot to the 26-year-old.

“It was nice, but other than that, I missed the NHL,” Krejci said. “When we’re kids, we all dream about playing in the NHL. Once we finally made it, we want to be in it. We don’t want to play somewhere else.”

At least Krejci got to see some familiar faces, as both Andrew Ference (Ceske Budejovice HC) and Tuukka Rask (Plzen HC) also played in the Czech Extraliga. Krejci scored on Rask when their teams played one another, but it was Rask who got the last laugh.

“I did score,” Krejci said. “But then the game went into a shootout and he stopped me, we were 1-1.”

Krejci was one of 12 Bruins to play in Europe during the lockout. He said he felt good after skating with teammates Friday, but admitted that time will tell whether he and others are ready for the physical challenge of the upcoming 48-game schedule.

“We’ll see,” he said of whether playing in the Extraliga was enough to keep him in NHL shape. “The game’s a little different there. There’s not as much hitting. It’s a bigger ice, so it’s definitely a little different, but we’ve got to wait and see whether I’m in good shape for the games or not. Personally I feel pretty good.”

Like everyone playing in Europe, Krejci thought at a couple of points that it was time to pack his bags and return to the NHL, only to find that talks for a new collective bargaining agreement had broken off. That was disappointing for him, but he can only imagine how disappointed fans are after the league lost nearly half a season to yet another work stoppage.

Krejci has been looking forward to stepping back onto the Garden ice since the B’s were eliminated in seven games by the Capitals last season. He just hopes that the lockout didn’t leave a bad taste in fans’ mouths and that the season-opener can be a good experience for everyone.

“I don’t really know what the fan’s [attitude] is about [toward] the situation and what’s going on with the lockout,” Krejci said. “I’m maybe a little nervous. I don’t know what to expect, but they’ve been great for so long. As long as I’ve been here, they’ve been great. They’ve been going to the games, so I hope they’re going to come and support us just like nothing happened.”

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