“I haven’t experienced that before, and it was interesting after being here for six or seven years,” he said. “I came out a lot stronger from that, and I learned some really important stuff that I can bring here.”
That odyssey took him to several different franchises, but ultimately ended with him coming back to the Blackhawks. Kruger was traded by Chicago to Las Vegas, then was flipped days later to the Carolina Hurricanes.
After appearing with the Hurricanes, Kruger was demoted to Charlotte, and was ultimately traded to Arizona after the season. Before he could even put on a Coyotes jersey, his journey brought him back to Chicago, where he will once again be a key center for a team looking to get back into the postseason.
“I wouldn’t call it a shock, but I would call it a surprise,” he said. “It’s been great to meet all the guys again, and it feels normal. I’m excited and I’m super happy to be back.”
Kruger’s journey through the NHL and AHL ranks has left a big mark on him, and he’s using the experience as motivation for a team looking to prove that its Stanley Cup window isn’t closed yet.
“I feel super motivated about next year and what we can do here in the future,” he said. “We’ve got a young team, and we still have some core pieces, and I just feel really good about it. I’ve got to bring it, and play the best hockey that I can. That’s always my mindset and that’s always what I’m trying to do, but especially this year.”