The Boston Bruins have experienced some high emotion handshake lines over the years in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
But nothing will probably ever touch the moments following Boston’s 3-1 win over the Washington Capitals in Game 5 on Sunday night. The Bruins were certainly elated at advancing past the Capitals to the second round of the playoffs, of course, but it also ended the season of their longtime captain Zdeno Chara now playing for Washington.
So, there were extended conversations, hugs and plenty of appreciation for the 44-year-old Chara in the traditional handshake line after what might have been his last NHL game.
Zdeno Chara goes through the handshake line with all his former Bruins teammates. All respect. pic.twitter.com/WPNHLz09cf
— Brady Trettenero (@BradyTrett) May 24, 2021
The 6-foot-9 defenseman is under contract for one more season, of course, but who knows what kind of plans away for a player that’s already ticketed for the Hockey Hall of Fame once he hangs up his skates.
“We’ve had so many battles together,” said Patrice Bergeron, who replaced Chara as captain of the Boston Bruins. “It was definitely different to play him in a playoff series. Obviously, we played against each other all year, so that kind of helped getting used to it for the playoffs. But that being said, it’s always different at that time of the year. You try not to think about it, try to play your game and concentrate on what we can do as a team. I definitely feel great to finish it off right away tonight.”
It surely felt great for the Bruins to advance, and Chara played well in Game 5 delivering a massive hit on Craig Smith in front of the benches amidst his solid 15 minutes of ice time. But David Pastrnak admitted he was very emotional shaking hands with Big Zee afterward while feeling very appreciative about the way the former captain had helped him early in his NHL career.
“It was obviously a lot of emotion going through [the handshake line],” said Pastrnak. “Zdeno is a guy that helped me grow up as a person and especially how to be a pro. It was a little emotional, but I can’t wait to catch up and hope to see him back home at the end of this. The emotion was high, and I can’t thank him enough for what he did for me.”
It’s interesting to note that both Chara and Torey Krug didn’t make it out of the first round of this spring’s playoffs after exiting the Boston Bruins in free agency this season. But it doesn’t change anything about the respect and appreciation coming from the Boston Bruins group toward Chara at the end of his 23rd NHL season, which was somewhere other than Boston for the first time in a very, very long time.