WILMINGTON, Mass. — With veterans slowly trickling back into town throughout the week, the numbers at the Bruins' informal captain's practices swelled to more than 20 skaters on hand on Thursday. But a chance to enjoy one final long weekend before the start of camp was too much to resist for many of those players, as just five Bruins skated in Friday's workout.
The Bruins who played hooky instead of hockey may regret the decision, as this workout turned into one of the more enjoyable and entertaining sessions so far.
Captain Zdeno Chara, just back from a photo shoot for Easton Hockey in Los Angeles on Thursday, organized an impromptu 2-on-2 challenge, with himself and fellow defenseman Dennis Seidenberg taking on forwards Nathan Horton and Brad Marchand. Goalie Michael Hutchinson defended against both squads.
"It was competitive, it was good, hard work, but it was also fun," said Chara, who showed a different side to his usual intense demeanor on the ice, as he was smiling and laughing throughout the proceedings.
Chara also showed off some fancy moves he rarely attempts in a real game. He maneuvered around Marchand with a series of slick dekes at one point, though he did fall trying to execute a spin-o-rama around Horton.
It was still a good workout, as the sides battled for about an hour with no spares on hand for line changes and only a couple of quick breaks.
"We didn't have enough guys, so we played 2-on-2," said Chara. "It's hard because you have to always skate and move yourself and you're always covering a man. But it was great. I don't know how long we played for, but it was pretty high tempo so it was good."
And even amid the fun, the competitive juices were flowing, with the veteran blueliners ultimately prevailing over the pair of younger forwards.
"We got really motivated," said Chara. "Marsh [Marchand] started to cheat a little bit and guys got excited. We had the lead 2-0, then they came back and tied it 2-2 in games. Then we scored three quick ones and it was over."
Any underhanded methods Marchand may have allegedly employed didn't result in victory, but he enjoyed the chance to match up against the former Norris Trophy winner all the same.
"It's fun. It's not very often that you get to play against him [with us] being on the same team," said Marchand. "It's always fun to kind of get to look into some other guys' eyes and these are great players, so it’s fun to just be out there with them."
Of course Marchand, at 5-foot-9, wasn't exactly going eye-to-eye with the 6-foot-9 Chara.
"Yeah, his chest or his stomach maybe," said Marchand. "It's amazing how athletic he is for his size."
Even more amazing considering Chara had just flown to L.A. and back.
"Just a quick turnaround, there and back," said Chara of the trip. "I came back from Europe, now coast to coast and then it will be back to Europe [at the start of the season]. Lots and lots of hours on the plane lately, but at least now I can relax for a little bit before we go back to Europe."
Don't expect a noted workout fanatic like Chara to relax for too long though.
"I might take Sunday off," said Chara, still smiling after a fun day at the rink.
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