Zdeno Chara is no longer the captain of the Boston Bruins.
The Washington Capitals announced late Wednesday afternoon that they had signed the 43-year-old unrestricted free agent to a one-year deal worth $795,000.
Chara posted a tribute and message to the Bruins and their fans, as well as, the city of Boston.
“Recently, The Boston Bruins have informed me that they plan to move forward with their many younger and talented players and I respect their decision. Unfortunately, my time as the proud Captain of the Bruins has come to an end.
I want to first of all thank the passionate and loyal Bruins fans, who shared the ups and downs of each season over the past 14 years. I’m proud that we were able to return the Stanley Cup to Boston and celebrating with all of you, in Boston, New England, and around the world, was a moment I will never forget. You all have treated my family and me as one of your own and I will always be grateful. Thank you.
I would also like to thank all of the Bruins staff. The trainers, equipment staff, medical staff (all doctors, dentists and therapists), PR and hockey operations, the front office staff, arena staff, security and everyone who helped make the past 14 years so memorable. While there are too many names to mention, please know how sincerely grateful I am to each of you.”
First Mookie Betts was traded away to the Los Angeles Dodgers in February. Then Tom Brady headed south as an unrestricted free agent to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on St. Patrick’s Day. Now, Zdeno Chara, the Bruins’ captain for the last 14 seasons and the longest-tenured captain in the NHL is headed to the nation’s capital to try and win another Stanley Cup with Alexander Ovechkin and the Caps. 2020 has essentially served as the year the Boston pro sports scene had to settle the vig with the sports karma Gods after winning 12 championships since 2002. Can we just get to Friday without the Boston Celtics trading Jayson Tatum?
What’s ironic is that the Patriots, and now the Bruins were more than willing to settle their debts with sports karma and never really showed an interest in bringing Brady and now Zdeno Chara back. As much as both franchises acknowledged how both Brady and Zdeno Chara were icons that will forever live in local sports lore, there was always a passive, and sometimes passive-aggressive reply whenever both contract situations were brought up to the Patriots and Boston Bruins brass.
Boston Hockey Now and veteran Bruins beat scribe Joe Haggerty has been trying to convey this for a while and ‘Off The Record’ has indicated as well that, the writing was on the wall for a Chara exit as the Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney and President Cam Neely continued to promote a youth movement on the blue line.
“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 last week. “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.”
This and Chara’s departure would explain why the Bruins have been scouring the NHL trade wire and NHL free agency market for the better part of the last month now as they try to fill the expected gap on the left side of their blue line.
The 6-foot-9, 250-pound Chara had five goals and nine assists in 68 games last season. He finished a plus 26.
A veteran of 22 NHL seasons, Chara led the Bruins to their first Stanley Cup in 39 years in 2011. He won the Norris Trophy voted as the NHL’s top defenseman in 2008-09 and has been selected to play in five NHL All-Star Games. Chara has been named an NHL First Team All-Star three times and Second Team All-Star four times. In 2010-11, he won the Mark Messier Leadership Award for qualities on and off the ice.
Chara is sixth in Bruins history in games (1,023) and third in points by a defenseman (481) behind Ray Bourque (1,506) and Bobby Orr (888).
After being selected by the New York Islanders in the third round (56th overall) of the 1996 NHL Draft, Chara has amassed 656 points (205 goals, 451 assists) in 1,553 NHL games with the Bruins, Islanders and Ottawa Senators, and 70 points (18 goals, 52 assists) in 195 playoff games.