Is Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara done as a Bruin or even an NHLer?
It sure sounded like at least the former was true after Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman scored 14:10 into the second overtime of Game 5 to eliminate Chara and the Bruins from the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs.
“I hope you don’t mind I shift gears from hockey to humanity,” NBC and hall of fame play-by-play announcer Mike “Doc” Emrick said of Zdeno Chara after Hedman ended the 2019-20 Boston Bruins’ season and quite possibly the career. “The humanity that this guy has over his span of time in Boston, he’s reached out to oppressed groups, he’s made donations of time and food and clothing, as a lot of guys do. But if he were coming to your home tomorrow night for dinner, he’d want to talk about you and his family and not himself. He’s a good soul, and you’ll always see other people greet him for that reason. And a gallant who did win a championship for Boston in his time.”
Following the heartbreaking loss for Chara and the Bruins, Chara was non-committal on the topic.
“I haven’t made that decision,” Chara said. “I obviously just finished the game. I’ll be open-minded.”
Just weeks after the NHL season went on pause due to the worldwide Coronavirus outbreak, the 14-year Bruins captain and current Boston Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney made it clear to the media in separate Zoom calls that the 43-year-old Chara had no plans of retiring.
“Zdeno Chara himself has reported that he would like to continue to play,” Sweeney told reporters back on April 10.
Chara just finished a one-year contract that paid him $2 million this past season and had a potential $1.75 million in bonuses.
“The really unique relationship that we have as an organization with Zdeno — and this started a bunch of years ago but in the last three or four in particular — he has exercised the ability to show patience and allow us to plan accordingly and then adjust in his own contractual situations,” Sweeney said then.
Chara’s teammates were pressed on the topic of their captain potentially being done with the Bruins and the NHL and did their best to not let the raw emotion of the loss dictate their words and thoughts.
“He’s an icon in Boston and it’s been – who knows what’s going to happen – but it’s a pleasure to go to the rink with him every day and see the dedication he has to the game and has had to the game for so long,” veteran Bruins winger Brad Marchand said. “It’s difficult to do what he’s done, day in and day out. The way he prepares and the way he still cares so much and he’s one of the most, if not the most, driven person I’ve ever met. And he’s going to be a hall of famer. He’s one of the best defensemen, best players to ever play the game. Like I said, it’s been a real honor to play with him. I obviously – we have no idea what’s going to happen but he’s an incredible teammate and captain and leader and I don’t have enough good things to say about him.”