Aside from the disappointing result, one of the stranger parts of the Bruins’ Game 5 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning was Doc Emerick’s monologue on how we were probably seeing the last of Zdeno Chara in a Boston Bruins uniform.
After the game, Chara said that he hadn’t made any decisions on the future and that he remained open minded about his options.
That, in turn, led to plenty of speculation about Chara’s future, speculation that he addressed during his media availability today.
“I feel strong physically and I’m positive and I believe I can still play this game and contribute to the team,” he said. “I want to stay in Boston. I want to be a Boston Bruin. I want to continue to lead by example and share my experiences and my game skills with the younger players and my teammates. That hasn’t changed. I’m committed and we’ll see what’s going to happen next.”
Well then...that settles that (kind of).
Chara was, of course, asked about it a couple of more times, and offered some expanded thoughts.
“I’m committed to the Boston Bruins,” he said. “I’m committed to Boston fans and the city of Boston. I think I’ve expressed that a number of times...I’m excited about the future of this team and like I said, we are going to do whatever we can to win another Stanley Cup.”
“I expressed to my agent that I would like him to meet with the management and I make that my priority,” he continued. “The sooner the better and see what the future holds...I want to play for the Boston Bruins. Again, we will see what the decisions are going to be...and that’s something up to my agent and...the senior upper management to kind of go over it.”
The take-home point here is that Chara does not want to retire. He wants to play for the Bruins again next season, meaning the ball is squarely in Don Sweeney’s court.
Barring outrageous contract demands, I cannot foresee a situation where Sweeney wouldn’t want Chara back. Torey Krug is likely gone, leaving the B’s with at least one hole to fill on defense.
Why add another one when your captain so clearly wants to keep playing?
In all likelihood, Chara was have to take a slight pay cut from this year’s salary, and may have to accept a lesser role or reduced minutes.
Still, Chara back at lower price than last season seems like a no-brainer. Let’s hope Sweeney and Co. see it the same way.