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Coyle fired up about 'job opportunities' left behind by Bergeron, Krejci

Mark Blinch / National Hockey League / Getty

Charlie Coyle knows the Boston Bruins are going to feel the losses of Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci in 2023-24, but the veteran center is raring to step up in the wake of their departures.

"They're world-class players and we're going to miss them," Coyle said during a recent appearance on WEEI's "The Gresh & Fauria Show." "We all wish they could play. ... But those are job opportunities right now, right? That gets me fired up, it only gets our team fired up."

He added, "It's a team effort. I like our team. ... If we need to claw our way a little more this year, so be it. That's going to help us in the long run come playoff time."

Bergeron, a six-time Selke Trophy winner as the league's premier defensive forward, retired after 19 NHL seasons in late July. He stepped away with 427 goals and 1,040 points in 1,294 career regular season contests and ranks third in franchise history in both categories. Krejci followed suit in August, capping off a 16-season tenure with his ninth career 50-point campaign.

Without them, Boston is down its usual top two centers for 2023-24. The Bruins are tight against the cap with less than $500,000 in space available, making any substantial additions difficult. Coyle is expected to slot in between Brad Marchand and Jake DeBrusk to start the season, while Pavel Zacha is set to play with David Pastrnak and newcomer James van Riemsdyk to round out the top two lines, head coach Jim Montgomery told the Boston Herald's Steve Conroy.

Coyle has spent the past five seasons in Beantown and posted 16 goals and 45 points in 82 games last campaign while averaging almost 17 minutes of ice time per contest, good for his best year as a Bruin.

The 31-year-old said the Bruins will notice Bergeron and Krejci's absences off the ice, too.

"We want to solidify that culture that those guys brought," Coyle said. "That's why our organization - our team - is good, because of that culture. ... So when those guys are gone, how do we emulate that? ... You can't replace those guys individually ... but we can all put our hand in and make sure we pull the rope a little more."

The Bruins enjoyed a historic campaign during Bergeron and Krejci's final year in the NHL, setting new records for wins (65) and points (135) in a single season. But that success didn't translate into the playoffs, as Boston was upset by the underdog Florida Panthers in the first round.

"It was fun, every day we came to the rink we had such a blast. It felt like we barely lost. ... It was a very special team," Coyle said.

He continued, "Of course, our end goal, we didn't meet that. ... We've gotta use that as fuel to fire us, and I think we are."

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