BRIGHTON, Mass – The theme of the day for the Boston Bruins on their first day of 2021 training camp was absolutely and definitely “different.”
Sure, it was “different” because it will be an abbreviated training camp over and done with in less than two weeks, and because everybody is still meeting in small groups and masked off the ice while pushing through league and locally mandated COVID-19 protocols.
But that’s not the biggest reason.
No, things are different around the Black and Gold for this 2021 training camp because the massive presence, on and off the ice, of 6-foot-9 former captain Zdeno Chara is gone. The 43-year-old signed a one-year deal with the Washington Capitals last week ending his 14-year run as the Bruins captain, and Chara’s titanic absence was palpable around the fitness testing, the on-ice practices and any team activity where Big Zee had been the unquestioned leader since way back in 2006, when somebody like Charlie McAvoy was barely out of mites hockey.
Something as mundane as the pull-ups at fitness testing day became more of an event during Chara’s tenure just to see how many the 6-foot-9 conditioning freak would do at the start of each season.