It was just back in September of 2017 when Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet.ca reported that the Boston Bruins organization would prefer to re-sign captain Zdeno Chara instead of trade him while knowing his contract was due to expire in April.
In further detail with regards to the matter, Friedman said, “There have been some rumblings that some teams have asked the Bruins about him, would they consider moving him this year. (Bruins GM) Don Sweeney said again today that he is not planning on moving him and he does plan on re-signing him.”
As far as the 40-year-old defensemen was concerned to what his future looked like at the time, he told Joe Haggerty of CSNNE.com that he “definitely” wants to stay put in Boston and keep playing beyond this season — the 20th of his career.
Now just six months later while slowly coming up on the NHL postseason, the club announced on Tuesday morning that Zdeno Chara has been re-signed to a one-year contract extension that will keep him around through the 2018-19 season.
It is worth nothing that Chara will receive a total of 5 million over the lifetime of his contract while he will also have the chance to earn an additional $1.75 million in performance-based incentives.
Chara has been patrolling Boston’s blue line for more than a decade now and is now preparing for his 21st season playing at the National Hockey League level.
Chara spoke with the local media ahead of yesterday’s game against the Winnipeg Jets and with regards to what his thoughts on where he might go from there before this all came together, the veteran said, “I love the game. I love everything about it. I love the sacrifice and I love the training. At my age I look at what I can still do and just really enjoy it. I just want to keep improving and play for as long as I can.”
Further more, he said, “I always felt I can play for a long time if I’m in good shape and if I can be healthy,” he said. “So that’s what I wish for, that I can be healthy and play a long time while still being really effective and consistent.”
As far as his love for the game of hockey goes, Chara said, “I definitely want to play beyond this season. It’s really hard to put a number on it. Some people do and some people don’t. I love this game too much. I have made no secrets about it. I want to stay here [with the Bruins] and continue to play.”
Taking a look at his performance going into the final stretch of regular season action, Chara, a native of Trenčín, Slovakia, has scored 16 goals to go alongside 16 assists, making for 23 points in a total of 68 games played.
Bringing Chara back is a huge advantage for the Boston Bruins who will get a familiar face back on the ice when the puck drops in October while it also represents a veteran presence both on and off the ice to continue displaying leadership to the younger guys such as Charlie McAvoy.
When looking at Chara’s statistics recorded in the playoffs, he averaged 28 minutes and 46 seconds through six games played while he has appeared in 12 playoff runs since the 2001 season.
Chara, who currently weighs in at six-foot-nine, 250-pounds, has had the opportunity to talk about his future in hockey several times leading up towards the conclusion of this season, however, as far as Chara was concerned, Boston has had it’s back as he has theirs.
Further elaborating on his statements made recently, Chara said, “I think it works both ways. I think often times people only see one side of the pair, but honestly I enjoy being around the young guys. I look forward to coming to the rink every day and playing with them.”
When asked about how his teammate side and teacher side coincide with one another, Chara said, “It’s a little bit of a teaching process and a little bit of friendship, and you’ve just got to have respect for each other no matter how many games each player has played [in the NHL]. Whether it’s on or off the ice, the key is communicating and talking things out for when you get on the ice.”
Chara was originally selected by the New York Islanders in the 3rd round (56th overall) in the 1996 NHL Entry Draft and en did up playing four seasons at Nassau Coliseum before joining the Ottawa Senators via trade where he spent another four years before joining the Bruins back in 2006.
Looking at a few accomplishments for his career, Chara won the James Norris Memorial Trophy while playing for the Bruins in the 2008–09 season while he is also the franchise’s third-leading scorer for a defenceman, behind Hall of Famers Ray Bourque and Bobby Orr.
As noted by the Canadian Broadcast Corporation, Chara, a five-time all-star, is not only the tallest player in league history but also happens to lead his team in ice time with 23 minutes per game.
After the deal became official early on Wednesday, Chara spoke about his life in hockey and where he sees things going and during that time, he said, “I believe, myself, that I’m going to be playing beyond this contract.”
Further more, Chara said, “No matter how long you want to continue to play, you have to perform. You have to back up your status. So I know I need to go out there every night and do my job, perform and play hard and work hard and be a great example for my teammates. (The) rest of it, it will fall into place.”
“I believe in this team. It’s very exciting to be a part of this team. I think this team has a chance, and that’s all you can ask for. The rest of it is up to us to do on the ice. So, yeah, that was my priority, to stay in Boston, to be a Boston Bruin.”
As for GM Don Sweeney, he also had a chance to speak out about the agreement where he said, “He’s been a dominant player this year. He takes all of the hard matchups still, doesn’t shy away from any situations and has embraced the role that he’s kind of emerged into. … He’s indicated that he wants to perform at a high, high level, he expects to perform at a high level, and he’s backed that up.”
When talking about Chara’s drive and commitment to the Bruins organization, he said, “It really is a ripple effect through our whole hockey club. Every player realizes the bar is set so high with a player that has accomplished as much as he has, yet he shows up every day. … At times, when we’re trying to get him off the ice, he wants to be on it more. So, I think the example for excellence starts with Zdeno.”
Sweeney said Chara’s influence isn’t just on the younger players. In saying this, he eludes to the fact that Chara is so devoted to the game that he has even expressed interest in helping to develop young players such as Charlie McAvoy, Jake DeBrusk and Anders Bjork. In closing, Sweeney said, “I will not be surprised if we’re sitting here (again) because he’s indicated he wants to continue to play.”
After having come so far while doing so well amidst a few changes internally, Chara has stuck to the positive side in it all while looking for the good in not only himself but his teammates as well, “I’m so proud of the team, and what the guys have been able to do with so many guys being out of the lineup. Just a great indication that this team has a never-give-up attitude and willing to fight till the last whistle.”
At this time, the Bruins, who own a record of 47-17-11, also own the third-best record in the NHL heading into Wednesday night’s games. It is also worth mentioning that looking onwards to Thursday, the Bruins stand just one point behind the Tampa Bay Lightning for the best record in the Eastern Conference.
Chara has missed the last seven games with an upper body injury suffered on March 13th against the Carolina Hurricanes, however, has resumed skating but is not yet game ready. That being said, his status for the remainder of the season is listed as day-to-day and the team is cautiously optimistic in hoping that he will be activated from the IR before things wrap up against the Florida Panthers on Sunday April 8th.