By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Monday night was a bit disorienting for Bruins fans. Not only did the team’s season end in abrupt fashion with a double-overtime playoff loss to Tampa Bay, but the end of the game broadcast quickly turned into a bit of a career eulogy for Zdeno Chara.
That confusion continued after the game, when the Bruins captain simply said that he’s made no decision on his future and that he’ll be “open-minded” for the future.
Having had a few days to digest that emotional loss, Chara made a few things as clear as possible on a Thursday morning Zoom session with reporters: He wants to keep playing, he wants to return to the Boston Bruins, and he hasn’t spent any time envisioning playing for any other team.
“I feel strong physically and I’m positive and I believe that I can still play this game and contribute to the team and I want to stay in Boston. I want to be a Boston Bruin,” Chara said. “And I want to continue to lead by example and share my experiences and my game skill with the younger players and my teammates. That hasn’t changed. I’m committed. So we’ll see what’s gonna happen next.”
Chara just completed playing out his one-year extension, which paid him a $2 million base salary and included $1.75 million in earnable incentives. That was a significant drop fro his days making $7.5 million, $6.5 million, or even $5 million annually, but it showed that he was willing to actually back up his words about being committed to Boston by playing for relatively short money, by his standards.
The 14-year Bruins captain said that he’s not aware of any conversations his agent has has with Bruins management, but he anticipates that those discussions will begin in the coming days and weeks.
“I am confident but at the same time you know, you’ve been in the business and around hockey for so long that you know there are different circumstances and possibilities. But as of right now, I’m excited. I want to be a Boston Bruin. I want to play for the Boston Bruins,” Chara said. “But, again, we will see what the decisions are going to be made and that’s something up to my agent and the senior upper management to kind of go over it.”
— Dan Roche (@RochieWBZ) September 3, 2020
As for the seemingly undecided answer on Monday night, Chara said he was simply still sitting in his emotions just moments after losing in double overtime.
“Yeah I mean I wouldn’t say I’m undecided. I was saying my mind was open,” Chara explained. “Obviously to be asked just a few minutes about my future after the double overtime loss, and the way we battled and how well we played in that game, I was still so sad about the outcome.”
As for the television broadcast making it seem like his time in Boston was over, Chara spoke very matter-of-factly about the reality of his situation.
“Well I’m committed to the Boston Bruins. 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 we’re going to do whatever we can to win another Stanley Cup,” Chara said. “I can’t really reflect on some of the rumors. I have not heard any of these rumors directly and I dismiss any kind of conversations and comments on these matters because it might just cause unnecessary distractions to my teammates and the organization.
“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,” Chara added.
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To the greatest sports fans of Boston. Unfortunately we did not meet your or our high expectations. I can tell you that all of us, players, trainers, coaches and management endured many challenges and made many sacrifices to play our best, in trying to win the Stanley Cup and bring it home. Sadly, we could not move on and now return home and prepare ourselves for the upcoming season. I am proud of the commitment each player and staff made to in this playoff run. Each member of the Bruins organization made many sacrifices to be part of the playoffs and this was hard on each of us. I am proud of how my teammates overcame these challenges and played with determination and gave their all during these games. We are returning home to rest and reunite with our loved ones and friends. We will rest briefly and then start our preparations for the next season. We have a very talented team and a passionate team. We will be ready to play and play hard to win as we start the new season. Thank you all you great fans of Boston for whom we play and represent. There is no better hockey town. See you next season, hopefully with a full stadium of passionate Boston Bruins fans cheering us on.
The 43-year-old Chara was asked directly if his future is either playing with the Bruins or retiring from hockey, and his answer indicated that he hasn’t yet crossed that bridge in his mind.
“Well again, if it comes down to that, then again that’s something that we can talk about later,” Chara said. “But I love Boston. I love the city. I think we have the best fans in the world. I have no plans to move or kind of go anywhere else. So we will see what the future holds.”