BOSTON – On a night when Boston Bruins fans were probably hoping Zdeno Chara was still in Black and Gold as they watched a patchwork defensemen group put together because of injuries, they finally got to give their longtime captain the ovation he deserved. The Bruins put together another video tribute to No. 33 during a TV timeout in the first period and the 2,200 fans at TD Garden gave a loud, warm and thankful ovation as Chara smiled and waved to them from the ice.
Zdeno Chara received a standing ovation and a touching tribute video in his return to Boston. 👏 pic.twitter.com/iFpANw7Qoc
— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) April 11, 2021
The whole thing still wasn’t the kind of welcome back and “thank you” that Chara richly deserves after 15 seasons as the B’s captain, but it also felt a little more “right” than the video tribute to an empty arena that the 44-year-old received back in early March in his first game at TD Garden as a member of the Washington Capitals. It also begs the question if Chara is the first player in NHL history to get two different video tributes from the same team in the season following his exit from the organization.
Either way, his old Boston Bruins teammates were happy to see him feel the love from B’s fans on Sunday night.
“It was great for him to have that with the fans, you know, I think they played a video last time around but there was nobody in the building,” said Patrice Bergeron after the game. “It doesn’t have that same feel. I know it’s only 12 percent capacity, but he deserves that. He’s done so much for for the organization and for the game of hockey, and he’s still doing that. So I thought the fans had a great response and I was happy for him.”
It was a stunning contrast on the ice with the Bruins playing without Charlie McAvoy, Matt Grzelcyk, Brandon Carlo and Kevan Miller due to injuries, and a defensemen corps playing that had just a combined 500 games of NHL experience. Contrast that with Chara alone, who has three times that much all by himself with 1,594 games of NHL experience while remaining healthy and strong throughout his entire future Hall of Fame career.
The Bruins and Chara opted to part ways in the offseason as Boston wanted to get a long look at younger defensemen like Jeremy Lauzon, Jakub Zboril and Urho Vaakanainen, but it’s turned into a steady flow of injuries as the B’s have gone through 12 different D-men at the NHL level this season.
Chara has two goals, nine points and a plus-10 in 41 games with the Capitals this season while averaging 18:26 of ice time as a third pairing D-man for Washington.