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With a start date and format announced, we’re officially on Chara Watch

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If reports are to be believed, we should see a new deal for the big fella shortly.

Boston Bruins v Toronto Maple Leafs Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

The NHL’s big plans for the 2021 season were announced yesterday, and that announcement pushed a big item back to the top of the Bruins’ to-do list.

Yes, it’s time to talk about Zdeno Chara again!

Last we heard from any sort of official sources, the Bruins and Chara had conversations, and both sides were comfortable revisiting things further down the line.

Chara wasn’t in a hurry, and neither were the Bruins.

We’ve heard other rumblings since then, from the believable (Chara may just retire) to the wild (Chara will go play for the New York Rangers), but it’s been relatively quiet.

If you remember, one of the main issues with Chara’s status, if reports are to be believed, surrounded the fact that Chara wanted to see what the NHL’s plans for next season looked like before he signed a new deal (in Boston or elsewhere).

Allegedly, Chara was interested in seeing if the league was considering another bubble set up, like the playoffs.

I’m inferring here, but my guess is that his appetite for returning for a 23rd NHL season would have been significantly decreased by the prospect of weeks or months in a bubble away from his family.

However, it would appear that the NHL’s plans for the 2021 season are, on the surface, pretty reasonable: a shortened slate of games with limited long-distance travel, all wrapped up by the summer. Not bad!

So...if the season set-up seems reasonable for Chara, and the Bruins still could use him, we should expect to see a deal made in the coming days, right? Maybe a nice one-year, “let’s take one last crack at it” deal just in time for Christmas.

And it goes without saying that the Bruins could still use Chara.

The Bruins’ blue line is currently made up of Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo, Matt Grzelcyk, John Moore, Connor Clifton, and Jeremy Lauzon; Kevan Miller should be activated off of IR at some point too, and the Bruins also have guys like Jakub Zboril, Jack Ahcan, and Steven Kampfer in the wings.

I don’t know about you, but adding Chara to that first six and bumping one of them to the bench would make me feel a lot better about the B’s team defense.

It’s safe to say that at this point, if Chara doesn’t return to Boston, it’s not going to be due to the way the season is set up. It’ll be because he wants to see what else is out there, or he has decided he doesn’t have the legs for another go-round.

Still, it makes too much sense: the Bruins want one last kick at the can. Chara doesn’t want to go out in an empty arena in Toronto. It’s a short season with limited travel stress.

Time to take care of that last bit of off-season business and focus on one more run ahead.