It was the kind of control he has not been able to exercise in contract talks with the Bruins this summer, as bigger issues between the league and NHL Players’ Association superseded those discussions.
Chara, 33, is entering the final year of the five-year, $37.5-million deal he signed as a free agent in 2006. Both he and the Bruins are hopeful of reaching agreement on another contract to keep him in Boston, but those talks were put on hold while the league and the NHLA hammered out some new guidelines for long-term contracts in the wake of Ilya Kovalchuk‘s contentious deal with the Devils.
“Obviously the investigations to set the new rule between the NHL and the NHLPA about long-term contracts kind of put everything on pause, so we’ll see,” said Chara. “Now, at least, both sides know what the rules are, and obviously going into the new CBA it’s going to be very important to have these rules already set.”
With that dispute finally resolved last week, the Bruins and Chara can get back to work on an extension for the 2009 Norris Trophy winner.
“Of course I want to stay in Boston,” said Chara. “I want to be a part of this team, if possible for the rest of my career. I enjoy being a Bruin and obviously I want to win a Cup over here.”
Chara believes that goal could be within reach with the additions the club made this offseason, upgrading the offense by trading for Nathan Horton and drafting Tyler Seguin.
“I think we improved again,” said Chara. “Anything is possible. We have a good enough team to win all the way. There are a few obstacles that can change the direction of how the team is going. Obviously injuries are a big part of the success and if we stay healthy, yes this team is very strong.”
Chara himself is healthy again after a hand injury limited his effectiveness for much of last season. He opted against surgery this summer, and while the pain is gone, he will not regain full motion in his left pinky finger.
“It’s something that I’m going to have to live with the rest of my life,” said Chara. “It isn’t going to be perfect, but it’s good enough.”
That didn’t stop him from swinging a hammer all summer as he tried to complete construction of his offseason dream home.
“I was doing a few things, but that was the main project,” said Chara of the home-building. Did he get it finished before returning to Boston for camp? “Not yet,” said Chara. “Almost. It’s close.”
The Bruins and Chara hope to be constructing a new contract soon. And if they are not able to reach an agreement before the start of the season, Chara left open the possibility of continuing talks during the year.
“We’ll see,” said Chara. “It’s something we’ll have to make a decision on [at that point].”