BRIGHTON, Mass – It certainly looks like this season isn’t going to be Black and Gold swan song for 40-year-old Zdeno Chara.
The Bruins captain celebrated B’s training camp fitness testing on Thursday morning with a team-high 25 pull-ups and then was happy to talk about preliminary contract extension talks he’s held with Bruins general manager Don Sweeney.
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Sweeney indicated the negotiation will likely carry over into the season as the team gets a front row look at Chara as a shutdown defenseman at 40. Still, a short-term extension is almost a formality provided the 6-foot-9 defenseman can remain healthy and repeat the solid success of last season.
“Zee, I’ve had talks with him. He has indicated to us that he would like to keep playing, and we have indicated to him that we would like him to keep playing for the Boston Bruins,” said Sweeney. “As we go through camp and as we go through the regular season, we’ll continue to have those talks. But I thought it was important to let him know we’re in his corner in that regard.”
Clearly, the days of being a Norris Trophy finalist and the massive contract extensions are a thing of the past for one of the NHL’s oldest active players, but a short term one-to-two-year contract at $3 million-to-$4-million-per-season is well within the realm of possibility. The $4 million figure is actually Chara’s salary for this season at the end of the lengthy contract extension he signed prior to the start of the 2010-11 season.
Chara said he was happy to hear he’s still in the Bruins plans and it’s clear he’s okay with his evolution into more of a shutdown D-man with reduced minutes and a lesser offensive role that includes minimal power play time. One can envision Chara taking on a No. 3 or No. 4 defenseman spot if he remains with the Bruins and watching as youngsters like Brandon Carlo and Charlie McAvoy start to take on a little more of the heavy lifting on the back end.
“We reached out and had brief talks. The interest is on both sides,” said Chara. “I’ll be more than happy to stay with this organization that I signed with in 2006. I’m thrilled to be part of this organization and I want to continue to play beyond this season. Right now, it’s going to be about the team and how we get ready for the regular season.”
Certainly, Chara and the Bruins will be happy if he lands somewhere near the 10 goals and 29 points along with a plus-18 rating in 75 games that he accomplished last season while paired with 20-year-old Carlo.