Boston Bruins fans could be in for a case of massive déjà vu if a scenario painted by NBC hockey analyst Pierre McGuire comes true.
During a hit on TSN 690 Montreal’s Melnick in the Afternoon Show, McGuire mentioned the Colorado Avalanche as a landing spot for Bruins captain Zdeno Chara if things don’t end up working out with the Black and Gold. The 43-year-old Chara remains unsigned with NHL training camp little more than a week away and it appears far from a lock that he ends up coming back with a Boston Bruins that’s looking at other options to improve their blue line.
Chara’s agent Matt Keator said that 20-plus teams have contacted the agent about the 6-foot-9 future Hall of Famer’s services for next season, but his preference remains to sign on with the Boston Bruins for a 16th season. If that doesn’t happen then McGuire points to Chara going the same route that Bruins Hall of Famer Ray Bourque chose little more than 20 years ago to win a Stanley Cup in Colorado. Clearly, the Boston Bruins’ pursuit of Oliver Ekman-Larsson earlier this offseason tells anyone that they are looking for a different kind of D-man than Chara to fill a need for a veteran top-4 defenseman on the left side.
Could Chara end up being the same kind of difference-maker for the Avalanche as a 43-year-old shutdown defenseman and enforcer? Hmmm, it does seem to make a lot of sense as a landing spot for Big Zee.
“Go to Colorado. That’s where he should go. Do a Ray Bourque. They got a chance to win the Cup and I know he wants to win the Cup. He could make a massive difference there. They need a big, physical presence on the left side and I think he would fit perfectly with what they have there,” said McGuire on Melnick in the Afternoon. “One of the things that set them back in the playoffs was injuries, and they really missed Erik Johnson there. That was really, really tough stuff for them and they missed him a lot. He’s a bigger body. Sammy Girard gets targeted. Cale Makar gets targeted. Everybody goes after Ian Cole. They need somebody there that can really enforce things and Big Zee can do that. I think they’re really on the precipice of competing for a Cup, if not winning the Cup.
“I think [leadership] is one of the big parts about it if he were to go there. He’s won the Stanley Cup and he’s been back there two other times in his career. He knows what it’s all about. He played in the World Cup. He’s played in Olympics. He knows. His street cred around the league is amazing he’s still one of the most feared players in the National Hockey League.”
Clearly Chara still has some rugged game left as his plus-26 during last year’s regular season would attest and his penalty killing is still at a premiere level. But the 43-year-old defenseman also struggled in the Toronto bubble playoffs for the Bruins after last season’s long layoff, and the same kind of issues could presumably be there for the veteran defenseman that hasn’t played in three months while waiting for the NHL to hammer out a 2021 season format.
Bruins President Cam Neely didn’t guarantee that a B’s roster spot was preserved for Chara when asked about it during a Monday zoom call, and instead said that there were “a lot of factors at play” when it comes to their longtime captain. The Bruins already have eight defensemen signed to NHL deals at this point, and have young left shot D-men in Jeremy Lauzon, Jakub Zboril and Urho Vaakanainen that they want to get longer NHL looks to at this point. A subtraction of both Chara and Torey Krug from the defense’s left side in the same offseason would be a massive, but-probably-needed overhaul to the back end.
“I think it really depends on what he feels he can do to help us, and we have to feel the same way [about] how that looks. Is that something that he would be comfortable with, how we maybe envision it looking compared to maybe how [Chara] feels it may look?” said Neely. “This is a really difficult time for anybody that is going to come off a long break. [The players will] have a short training camp and jump right into a compressed schedule with a number of back-to-backs and I think 116 days, I believe, to play 56 games. So, there are a lot of factors in play about what makes sense for us and what makes sense for Zdeno.”
Stay tuned because it sure sounds like the Chara situation might be going down a familiar path with the Boston Bruins.