Zdeno Chára|Charlie McAvoy|Time to Pass the Torch?

Photo courtesy of WCVB – Boston

By: Maria from Watertown | Follow me on Twitter @mariaofh2otown

The dates of July 1, 2006 and June 24, 2016 will be part of “this day in history” timeline for the Boston Bruins. On each of these dates, the Bruins procured two players whose paths have intertwined for the last four seasons and will have a lasting impact on the franchise.  One of these players has cemented his legacy as a member of the Boston Bruins, while the other is still working his way towards building that legacy in a Bruins uniform. I’m referring to the free-agency signing of Zdeno Chara and the drafting of Charlie McAvoy.

There is no argument that can be made regarding the significant impact that Chara has had on the franchise since joining the Bruins in 2006. Chara was immediately named Captain and although his early years with the Bruins were a struggle, Chara’s commitment to the organization and his teammates, as well as his sense of community, has never wavered throughout his time in a Bruins sweater. By all accounts, teammates and coaches have nothing but respect and admiration for how Chara has conducted himself both on and off the ice. 

Photo courtesy of the Sporting News

Chara himself proved that commitment by agreeing to a very team-friendly deal this past season while also accepting somewhat of a diminished role on the team.  Great leaders lead by example and do what is in the best interests of the team. Mission accomplished where Chara is concerned. It also doesn’t hurt Chara’s legacy that he was a significant contributor to a team that brought a Stanley Cup back to Boston “after 39 long years”!

Photo courtesy of The Athletic

At the time the Bruins drafted Charlie McAvoy on June 24, 2016, there was nearly a 20-year age difference between Chara and McAvoy. McAvoy was heralded as the future of the Bruins defensive core and it did not take him long to get a taste of playing with the big boys.

McAvoy made his NHL debut in a playoff game against the Ottawa Senators on April 12, 2017 as a result of injuries to key Bruins defensemen, Brandon Carlo and Torey Krug. Talk about being thrown from the frying pan into the fire! It made perfect sense to pair the young protégé with the elder statesman, Chara, and McAvoy did not disappoint. McAvoy logged a little over 24 minutes of ice time during this game, which was second only to the Captain, who logged a tick over 25 minutes of on ice time.

The Bruins went on to win the game and McAvoy reflected back on that experience during an interview with Andrew Mahoney of Boston.com:

“That was incredible,” McAvoy said via Zoom Tuesday. “It was a dream come true, because that was my first NHL game, and that was my entire life. That was all I wanted to do was play in the NHL, and that was my chance. “And to have it in that playoff atmosphere was incredible. The nerves, the excitement. All of it.”

When asked about playing with Chara, McAvoy said the following:

“He’s just such a great guy,” McAvoy said. “He’s our leader, and all that he’s been able to do in his hockey career is incredible. Playing with him has been awesome, and it’s something that I’ll be able to tell my kids about one day, that I was able to play with the big guy.”

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Chara and McAvoy have been relatively steady defensive partners throughout McAvoy’s early career. Both players bring different skill sets to their positions. Chara has never been known for his skating speed, but he makes up for that with his size, long reach and his mere physical presence. McAvoy is fast, generally makes smart decisions with the puck and shows signs of offensive explosiveness.

During the last four seasons, McAvoy has had the privilege of working with and learning from Chara, who will certainly be in the Hockey Hall of Fame. Whether or not the Bruins decide to move forward with resigning Chara, I believe that it is time to hand the defensive torch to Charlie McAvoy and allow this potential beast of a hockey player to be unleashed.

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