BOSTON — Bruins captain Zdeno Chara has been a very busy man the last couple of weeks, but now he’s really ready to “get back to business.”
The B’s defenseman was back on the ice Monday at TD Garden wearing the spoked-B for the first time since Feb. 4. He left the team after that day’s game against the Vancouver Canucks and headed to Russia to represent Slovakia at the 2014 Winter Olympics. Chara was the country’s flag bearer and then captained the Slovakian hockey team.
Chara and David Krejci, who represented the Czech Republic in Sochi, are back in America, and they participated in their first Bruins practice Monday since returning. The B’s are still awaiting the return of head coach Claude Julien and forwards Patrice Bergeron and Loui Eriksson.
Chara and Krejci are excited to get back to work, but both raved about their time in Russia.
“It was fun,” Krejci said despite the fact that the Czechs were eliminated in the quarterfinals by Team USA. “The ending wasn’t the one I was looking for, but that sport, there’s so many good teams. On the other end, it was a great experience. I had lots of fun. My mom was there with me, so it was great.”
Chara didn’t take any family along, but he spoke glowingly of his experiences in Sochi not only as a hockey player but also as an ambassador for his home country.
“The whole environment, the way everything is set up, it’s so great,” Chara said. “It was just very neat to be part of the whole experience.”
Both players spoke highly of the way the tournament was run as well. There were some horror stories related to the accommodations in Sochi, including Chara’s tricky bed situation, but the 6-foot-9 defenseman was highly complimentary of the setup. Chara went as far as to compare the Olympic Village and surrounding area to a resort.
“It was nothing like [the bad things people were saying],” Chara said. “I don’t know what they were talking about, but I think that just like any other big events, the main focus was to make sure all of the athletes have everything they need first. Obviously it goes from there. Maybe there were a few media people who didn’t get the service or accommodations that they’re used to, and that’s what maybe started the whole thing is bad and not good, but honestly, I can’t say one bad word about the rooms, the food, the transportation, safety. … Everything was really, really good. It really made it so easy to get around and make it comfortable.”
Both Krejci and Chara are happy to be back in America and getting ready for the NHL’s stretch run. That’s going to be a work in progress, though. The two players got back last week and are still readjusting to time zones, getting over jet lag, and on Monday, getting back on the ice. Don’t expect to hear any excuses, though.
“I’m sure you’re going to feel it for a few days,” Chara said. “There’s no secret you’re on anywhere from a nine- to 12-hour time difference. You felt it today on the ice, that’s for sure. Today with a little bit of tired legs. You’ve just gotta get through it, take care of your body and be smart about rest and nutrition. I’m sure it’s going to be fine.”