A few minutes after the Bruins’ season ended Monday night, Zdeno Chara took to the podium for his press conference and said that he hadn’t made any decision about his future yet, but that he would be “open-minded.”
That was interpreted by pretty much everyone to mean that the 43-year-old Boston captain hadn’t made a decision about whether he was going to retire or not.
Meeting with the media via Zoom again on Thursday, Chara made it clear that he wants to continue playing for the Bruins.
“I wasn’t saying I was undecided. I was saying my mind was open,” Chara said. “Obviously to be asked about my future just a few minutes after the loss, and the way we battled and how well we played in that game, I was still so sad about the outcome, and my emotions were kind of even more being expressed at that time. I think I addressed that before we left for Toronto, that I feel strong physically.
“I’m positive and I believe that I can still play this game and contribute to the team. 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, so we’ll see what’s going to happen next.”
What’s going to happen next will have to be contract talks, as for the first time in his 14-year Bruins career, Chara finished a season without having a deal in place for the following year. Chara said he hopes to get the ball rolling on that front soon.
“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. Like I said, we are going to 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. The sooner the better, and see what the future holds.”
Of course, the Bruins have to also be interested in bringing Chara back. He is obviously no longer the player he was in his prime, and he doesn’t contribute much offensively anymore, but his coaches did continue to use him in key defensive situations and as the team’s top penalty-killer this postseason.
Chara has shown a willingness to sign fairly cheap one-year deals for a few years now, and says he’s confident there’s a deal to be made again.
“I am confident, but at the same time, you’ve been in the business and around hockey for so long, you know that there are different circumstances and possibilities,” he said. “But as of right now, I’m excited. I want to be a Boston Bruin. I want to play for the Boston Bruins. We will see what decisions are going to be made. That’s something up to my agent and the senior upper management to kind of go over it.”
As for the possibility that the Bruins might not want to re-sign him, Chara said he would have to think about whether to retire or play for another team then, but that he’s hopeful it won’t come to that.
“If it comes down to that, then that’s something we can talk about later,” Chara said. “I love Boston. I love the city. I think we have the best fans in the world. I have no plans to move or go anywhere else, so we will see what the future holds.”