Enemies Robert Thomas and Torey Krug, Become best friends.
Did we just become best friends??? pic.twitter.com/wjGrpboq8n
— Robert Thomas (@RThomas_27) October 10, 2020
“Did we just become best friends?”
That line from the movie Stepbrothers was joking tweeted by Robert Thomas who was on the receiving end of a Torey Krug hit in the Stanley Cup playoffs that left Thomas counting stars.
Now, these two competitors are playing the same Note – the Blue Note and fans could not be happier with how the veteran Krug has performed.
An American-born player from Livonia, Michigan, Krug is wise beyond his years. He’s only 29 but has more than 500 NHL games under his belt.
He’s been in the league 10 years and was named an NHL First Team All-Rookie in 2013-14. In his career, he’s scored 68 goals and notched 284 assists in 523 games (532 points). He has logged an impressive 20:26 average time on the ice.
Krug is best when the pressure is highest.
He is a gritty playoff performer too. He’s been in 75 Stanley Cup Playoff games, scoring 11 goals and adding 52 assists. He is minus-4 in playoff games and has five even-strength goals and scored on six power plays.
“Krug’s been a stellar power-play quarterback over the years for the team, with 24 of those 67 goals coming on the man-advantage,” Josh Erickson of The Last Word on Sports wrote in October 2020 when the Blues signed Krug. “He’s consistently logged over 20 minutes a night for the past five seasons. It will be difficult for the Bruins to replace Krug’s spot in the lineup.”
Boston signed Krug as a free agent in March 2012. He played out his contract there and signed with the Blues in October 2020. His signing came at the same time former captain Alex Pietrangelo opted to leave St. Louis and sign a free-agent deal with the Vegas Golden Knights.
WATCH: Torey Krug remembers his “Welcome to the NHL Moment
Not all fans were on board with Krug’s signing. Whether it was because they truly were down on Krug or was it that they just missed Petro?
In Boston, they still lament the loss of their star defender. The Bruins are currently in fourth place at 23-13 in the East Division behind the New York Islanders, the Washington Capitals, and the Pittsburgh Penguins. This is well below Boston fans’ expectations.
“@ToreyKrug hi come back pls I miss u,” tweeted fan @mc4voyyy
“Too many passengers, never a consistent enough effort at five-on-five their power play looks like it misses a guy named Torey Krug … but at least he’s setting up Perron for one-timers in St. Louis,” tweeted @TyAragao
Too many passengers, never a consistent enough effort at five on five and their power play looks like it misses a guy named Torey Krug… but at least he’s setting up Perron for one timers in St Louis 🙃
— Tyler (@TyAragao) March 8, 2021
“A fantastic teammate, his banter, namely public social-media friendly jabs with Brad Marchand offered a farcical reprieve. Outside of being a leader in the locker room and on the ice, Krug loved the city,” he was profiled by camkerry of stanleycupofchowder.com
In Blues nation, the sentiment is much different.
“Torey Krug is in his best form right now. He is the passing and smashing machine that #stlblues were all so excited to get!” tweeted @faulk_mustache
— Justin Faulk's Mustache (@faulk_mustache) March 9, 2021
“I love Torey Krug bro,” wrote @BluesFanReacts on Twitter.
I love Torey Krug bro.
— BluesFanReacts (see pinned) (@BluesFanReacts) March 9, 2021
So far this season, Krug’s played in 26 games with a goal and 14 assists on the year for 15 points. He is currently at plus-13, which ranks him fifth in the NHL.
In his last five games, the defenseman has been an anchor for the ailing squad. Losing Carl Gunnarsson to a season-ending injury, combined with an extended absence for assistant captain Colton Parayko, has built pressure on leaders like Krug to help navigate the choppy waters of this competitive Honda West Division.
WATCH: Torey Krug fitting like a glove for the Blues
As a player who has spent his entire career playing on the East Coast – much less for the perpetual bloviating Boston Bruins fans – he had to learn the Blues system, but also the very different styles of all the teams in the West.
In the Blues’ last five games, Krug got his name on the score sheet with three assists. Against Anaheim on March 1, he had a pair of assists. As often discussed on fan sites and in the media, is it fair to judge a player’s performance solely by the game sheet? For players like Krug, the stat sheet is not always the fairest assessment of the player. He brings leadership to this young defense and has tremendous vision on the ice. As Blues TV analyst Darren Pang has often said during Blues games, “Krug sees the play before it develops.”
WATCH TOREY KRUG DESTROY ROBERT THOMAS
Upon the hailed return of hero Vladimir Tarasenko, Pang immediately recognized that chemistry was starting to develop between Krug and Tarasenko. He marveled at how deadly that combination was going to be once Tarasenko got more games under him with Krug. Pang delighted in a cross-ice pass from Krug to a streaking Tarasenko that was literally “tape-to-tape.”
“The accuracy Krug has when moving the puck out of the defensive zone is a sight to behold,” Pang said during the Blues 3-2 OT loss against the San Jose Sharks last week.
Blues fans have heard Krug’s name mentioned many times over the past several games. He was criticized early for a slow start, but team GM Dough Armstrong and Coach Craig Berube preached patience with Krug. They reaffirmed to fans in interviews and public comments that the player was right on track to step in and fill the big hole left by No. 27.
The Blues agree to terms with defenseman Torey Krug on a 7-year contract worth $45.5 million dollars.
— St. Louis Blues (@StLouisBlues) October 10, 2020
The Blues scouts knew Krug was a playmaker and a difference-maker. That is why they pounced on him when he became available.
Scouts have always been high on Krug, dating back to his breakout 2013-14 season.
“Torey Krug is a small puck-moving defenseman with a big heart,” the scout service Hockey’s Future wrote. ”Most undersized defenseman are offense first, but that is not the case with Krug who will do whatever it takes to win; block a shot, take a hit to make a play, or battle in the corners. When he does activate offensively, he uses his outstanding skating ability to join the rush and act as a fourth attacker, but he’s smart about limiting the amount of risks he takes. He has excellent distribution skills and will eventually be an option on the power play.”
The Blues went all-in on Krug, snapping him up early in free agency. They signed him to a seven-year deal that will pay him $45.5 million, or $6.5 million per year. The contract goes through the 2026-207 season, according to of The Hockey Writers.
The deal was a steal – literally.
“It was reported that the Bruins were set on a six-year, $6.5 million annual cap-hit for Krug. The Blues were able to beat this deal by one year, securing one of the NHL’s best offensive blueliners in the process,” The Hockey Writers site added.
“Krug’s absence on Boston’s blue line won’t just be felt on the ice, where he was a consistent offensive threat and played with the type of physicality/competitiveness that B’s fans adore. The 29-year-old defenseman also was a tremendous leader on and off the ice,” Nick Gross of NBCSports.com reported in a story of Krug’s signing.
TWEET: The new kid is fitting right in with the @StLouisBlues
— NHL on NBC Sports (@NHLonNBCSports) January 8, 2021
Krug is doing his part to endear himself to the fans here. He makes himself available for frequent media interviews, and in December, he started an effort to start a toy drive for children who were spending Christmas in the hospital. He asked his new Blues teammates to support the effort.
Thanks to the personal contributions of the players and their families, Krug was able to make Christmas merry for those children who were spending the holiday in a hospital. The gifts were purchased from a wish list provided by the patients and were made available through a free pop-up store inside the hospitals.
The Blues players responded to Krug’s philanthropic effort by donating more than 800 gifts!
“Very cool how generous these boys are! It came together quickly and we’re so happy to be putting a smile on lots of kids’ faces this Christmas and Holidays. Merry Christmas!!!” Krug tweeted.
Very cool how generous these boys are! It came together quickly and we’re so happy to be putting a smile on lots of kids faces this Christmas and Holidays. Merry Christmas!!!!🎄🎁 https://t.co/H4foiItFd9
— Torey Krug (@ToreyKrug) December 24, 2020
“I’m thankful the guys took the opportunity to take part in this,” Krug told Chris Pinkert of NHL.com. “We’re going to help out a lot of people this time of year, especially with the climate we’re in with the COVID situation. A lot of people have been affected differently, but we’re doing what we can to make them happy and give them a good Christmas.”
If Krug stays true to form, and all expectations of him are met, the Blues will be celebrating Christmas early by lifting Lord Stanley’s Cup.
Thanks for reading.
Now, back to full strength …
A St. Louis Blues blogger, NHL podcaster, and writer for the STL Fan Report.