Clearly, money is not the reason Zdeno Chara no longer is playing for the Boston Bruins.
It was role, and while the 43-year-old readily admits nothing is guaranteed for him in Washington, it seems the potential for him to have an impactful role is more likely with the Capitals than the Bruins.
Boston made clear that it wants to see what it has in its young players, presumably Jakub Zboril, Urho Vaakanainen and Jeremy Lauzon.
In return, the Bruins offered Chara what they referred to as an “integrated role.” While Bruins general manager Don Sweeney indicated that such a role didn’t come with set in stone parameters, it was clear it was a scaled back role from what he historically has played — a top-pairing ironman that’s on the ice for tons of defensive zone draws and is leaned upon heavily on the power play.
The way Chara saw it, there likely were better opportunities elsewhere.
“I want to mention that I believe Don Sweeney negotiated in good faith, and I appreciated the way everything was communicated to me and he was very open to me,” Chara said Thursday over Zoom in his Capitals introductory press conference. “We had a number of conversations, he made it clear what conditions and what role I would be taking with the organization if I returned. But I just felt what was presented to me and what conditions were attached to it, I just felt that I had more to offer and I respect their decisions and wish them the best. But I just felt I can still play regularly and play the games and I have no issues with them going a different direction, I just feel like for me at this point in my career it’s better if I continue to play.”
Chara then seemed to indicate that had he returned to the Bruins, there was a real possibility he would occasionally be, among other things, healthy scratched.
“Again, I respect the way it was communicated to me. Like I said, we had a number of conversations, early on it was probably a little bit unknown what the role would be,” Chara said. “But as the conversations progressed towards the end it was very clear to me that I would not be in the starting lineup for the season or starting some games or playing some back-to-back games and I would be more a reserve type of player. So, again, I have no issue with that. Don Sweeney — a lot of credit to Don Sweeney for how he handled the situation — but again for me I felt it would be a better fit for me if I find a better role with another team and step aside and let the Boston Bruins go in the direction that they chose to do.”
Chara is a prideful guy, it’s part of what’s made him such a successful player and why he’ll zip into the Hall of Fame one day. But it’s that pride, coupled with the direction the Bruins want to go at the blue line, that seems to make clear that it just might be for the best for each side to part ways
Both Chara and Sweeney in no uncertain terms indicated that there are no hard feelings. So, maybe it was just time.