The Boston Bruins better hope whatever hockey plan they have works. Zdeno Chara, a 6-foot-9 intimidator on defense, saw his 14-year run with the Bruins come to an end Wednesday when the Bruins decided to go the younger route. They let Chara walk via free agency and he signed a one-year deal worth $795,000 with the Washington Capitals.
Zdeno Chara’s early NHL years
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Zdeno Chara was selected by the New York Islanders in the third round of the NHL draft in 1996. He wasn’t much of an offensive threat in his four years with the Isles, never scoring more than two goals in a season. By his fourth year in the NHL, he did play all 82 games, finishing with nine points.
Chara was traded to the Ottawa Senators in a package deal prior to the 2001-02 season. In his first season with the Senators, Chara became a two-way defenseman. Intimidating and physical with his 6-foot-9, 250-pound frame, he dominated defensively while putting up 10 goals and 13 assists.
Chara spent four seasons with the Senators. Statistically, Chara had his best season with the Senators in the 2005-06 season. He racked up 43 points, scoring a then-career-high 16 goals and collecting 27 assists. Chara signed with the Boston Bruins via free agency the following season.
Chara dominated with the Boston Bruins
Heading into the 2006-07 NHL season, Zdeno Chara signed a five-year deal worth $37.5 million with the Boston Bruins and was immediately named captain. Chara played in 1,023 games with the Bruins and collecting 481 points during the regular season. He finished with 148 goals and 333 assists in Boston.
Chara helped guide the Bruins to three Stanley Cup appearances in his 14-year run with the team. The Bruins won it all in 2011. Chara was a five-time finalist for the Norris Trophy with the Bruins, claiming it after the 2008-09 season.
Chara, 43, has played his last game with the Bruins. He signed a free-agent deal with the Washington Capitals on Wednesday. The deal is for one year and he’ll be paid $795,000.
The Boston Bruins make a mistake by letting Chara go
The Boston Bruins just let one of their top defensemen in Zdeno Chara walk away for a measly $795,000. It’s a tough pill to swallow for Bruins fans. Yes, Chara is 43 years old and isn’t the dominant force he once was, but the Bruins could’ve probably had one last run in them with their veteran core of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, David Krejci, and Tuukka Rask – players from the 2011 Cup-winning season. The Bruins are aging, but in a shortened season, this was the perfect chance to make a final push with Chara in the mix.
Instead, the Bruins let Chara walk for peanuts. According to Boston.com, Chara will make $205,000 less than Kevan Miller, who hasn’t suited up for a game since April 4, 2019. Chara made the announcement he wouldn’t be returning on his Instagram account, saying “The Boston Bruins informed me that they plan to move forward with their many younger and talented players and I respect their decision.”
The Bruins will still see a lot of Chara in the upcoming season. Under the re-aligned East Division for 2021, the Bruins will play the Washington Capitals eight times.