By: Patrick Donnelly | Follow me on Twitter @PatDonn12
With speculation running rampant over whether or not Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara played his last game in Black and Gold during the team’s season-ending 3-2 double overtime loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 5 of the second round, the 43-year-old laid any and all retirement rumors to rest during his media availability on Thursday morning.
“I believe I can still play this game and contribute to the team and I want to stay in Boston,” Chara said. “I want to be a Boston Bruin.
“I want to continue to lead by example and share my experiences . . . that hasn’t changed. I’m committed. We’ll see what’s gonna happen next.”
Currently, Chara is a pending unrestricted free agent for the first time during his tenure in Boston as he and the Bruins are yet to sign a deal with his one-year, $2 million deal coming to a close. Over the past two seasons, the left-handed defenseman and general manager Don Sweeney have agreed to terms one one-year extensions prior to the playoffs, although the uncertainty amid the global pandemic undoubtedly proved to be an obstacle this year.
“I’m committed to the Boston Bruins,” the 6-foot-9, 250 pound giant said. “I’m committed to Boston fans and the city of Boston. I think I’ve expressed that a number of times. I’m excited about the future of this team. Like I said, we are going to whatever we can to win another Stanley Cup.
“I expressed to my agent that I would like him to meet with the management, and I make that my priority. The sooner the better, and see what the future holds.”
If Chara and the Bruins were to agree on a contract, there’s no reason not to believe that the two sides will not choose the same route as before: an affordable, one or two-year deal. Although the Trencin, Slovakia, native’s mileage may have become more apparent recenty, there is still value in a player, who was leaned on heavily in defensive situations, especially the penalty kill, and provides the type of leadership that Chara does.
“I am confident, but at the same time you know, you’ve been in the business and around hockey for so long that you know there are different circumstances and possibilities,” ,” Chara said of his confidence in getting a deal done. “But as of right now, I’m excited. I want to be a Boston Bruin. I want to play for the Boston Bruins.
“But, again, we will see what the decisions are going to be made and that’s something up to my agent and the senior upper management to kind of go over it.”
On Monday’s broadcast, the sense from NBC’s crew was that Chara’s career may have come to a close. In his postgame press conference, Chara said he had an “open mind” as far as his future is concerned, and he addressed the comments and rumors on Thursday as well.
“Yeah I mean I wouldn’t say I’m undecided. I was saying my mind was open,” Chara explained. “Obviously to be asked just a few minutes about my future after the double overtime loss, and the way we battled and how well we played in that game, I was still so sad about the outcome.
“I can’t really reflect on some of the rumors. I have not heard any of these rumors directly and I dismiss any kind of conversations and comments on these matters because it might just cause unnecessary distractions to my teammates and the organization.”
As for the possibility of if his decision came down to playing in Boston, or retiring, Chara seemed noncommittal, expressing that he has not considered that option yet.
“Well again, if it comes down to that, then again that’s something that we can talk about later,” Chara said. “But I love Boston. I love the city. I think we have the best fans in the world. I have no plans to move or kind of go anywhere else. So we will see what the future holds.”
Through 68 regular season games during the 2019-20 run, the big man put up five goals and nine assists for 14 points, in addition to a plus-26 rating and 60 penalty minutes. In 13 games in the bubble during the Round Robin and Stanley Cup Playoffs, Chara notched two assists, eight penalty minutes, and a minus-four rating.