Bruins

Bruins sign Zdeno Chara to a one-year, team-friendly extension

Bruins sign Zdeno Chara to a one-year, team-friendly extension

Zdeno Chara continues to get the Tim Wakefield treatment by the Boston Bruins, which means a string of one-year deals in perpetuity until the 42-year-old B’s captain decides to hang it up one of these days.

The Bruins announced on Saturday morning that they have signed the 42-year-old Chara to a one-year extension for next season worth $2 million in base salary along with another $1.75 million in reachable incentives.

Chara is in his 21st NHL season and 13th with Boston, and has appeared in 55 games this season while posting four goals and seven assists along with a plus-16 rating as a shutdown defenseman for the Black and Gold. While Chara is still effective as a shutdown D-man and is arguably still the best penalty killer going in the NHL, it’s also clear this season that age is beginning to slow him down a little bit at 42 years old. The 20:59 of ice time per game for Chara this season is the lowest of his career as the Bruins have focused on reducing his workload, and adding more to the plate of 21-year-old workhorse defenseman Charlie McAvoy.  

MORE BRUINS

The $2 million contract is excellent value for an aging, still-effective player in Chara that’s still a legit top-4 NHL defenseman at the NHL level, even if his Norris Trophy days and bigger offensive producer days are also now in the rearview mirror. The $2 million deal also gives the Bruins plenty of salary cap flexibility in helping them sign both McAvoy and Brandon Carlo, a couple of young RFA’s that are due for big raises on their second contracts this summer.  The lowered salary and cap hit for Chara more than makes up for any reductions to Chara’s game as he continues to play into his mid-40’s with a goal of lacing them up until at least the age of 45 years old. Besides, one can’t really put a price tag on the leadership, work ethic, toughness and intimidation level that Chara brings to the table as a 6-foot-9 defenseman that’s seen and done just about everything at the NHL level over the last two decades. It will be interesting to see if both Chara and New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady can reach those career mile-posts for themselves as they largely put off any big effects to their games from Father Time.

The 42-year-old defenseman has led the Bruins to a postseason berth in nine of his 12 completed seasons with the team, including a Stanley Cup Championship in 2010-11. He ranks sixth in franchise history in games played (948), and fourth in points by a defenseman (452) behind Hall of Famers Ray Bourque (1,506), Bobby Orr (888), and Dit Clapper (474).

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Celtics easily on your device.

NHL announces 24-team return format; here's what fans need to know

NHL announces 24-team return format; here's what fans need to know

The NHL is taking concrete steps toward resuming the 2019-20 season and eventually awarding the Stanley Cup.

An important step came Tuesday afternoon when NHL commissioner Gary Bettman announced a 24-team return-to-play format.

Here are the basics of the 24-team format:

A total of 10 cities are being considered for the two hub cities that will host the remainder of the season.

Here's the timeline in the return to play plan, per the league:

--Phase 2: Early June
In early June, it is expected that teams will be permitted to return to home facilities for small group, voluntary, and on- and off-ice training.

--Phase 3: Not Earlier than First Half of July
Not earlier than first half of July, formal training camps will begin after guidance from medical and civil authorities.

--Phase 4: Timing TBD
24 teams in 2 “hub” cities will compete in Seeding Round Robins, a Qualifying Round and Conference-based Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App

Now, let's talk about the playoffs.

The top 12 teams in each conference based on points percentage will resume play.

The top four teams in each conference automatically clinch a berth to the first round of the playoffs and will play round-robin games to determine their playoff seeding for the first round. Regular season overtime/shootout rules will apply to these round robin games, and any ties will be broken by regular season points percentage.

The remaining eight teams in each conference will play in a Best-of-5 qualifying round. The four winners will advance to the first round of the playoffs. These qualifying round games will be played using playoff overtime rules.

Here are matchups for the Eastern Conference, followed by the Western Conference:

Here are some other important playoff details:

--When the qualifying round is over, the remaining rounds will be set up using a bracket format, or each round will be determined by seeding. A decision on which style to use hasn't been made yet.

--The first and second rounds of the playoffs could be a Best-of-5 or a Best-of-7. The conference finals and Stanley Cup Final will be a Best-of-7.

The 24-team format means the Ottawa Senators, New Jersey Devils, Buffalo Sabres, San Jose Sharks, Los Angeles Kings, Anaheim Ducks and Detroit Red Wings are done for the 2019-20 season.

Given the unique nature of the situation, there isn't one format that would benefit all 31 teams, but what the league announced Tuesday is a pretty good plan toward finishing the season and crowning a champion.

Plenty of other details must be sorted out before games can resume, but this announcement is a positive step. 

2020 NHL Playoffs: These 10 cities are possibilities for hubs when play resumes

2020 NHL Playoffs: These 10 cities are possibilities for hubs when play resumes

Tuesday afternoon, hockey fans saw a rarity: Gary Bettman talking on television without getting booed.

Of course, nobody else was there when the NHL commissioner announced plans for the league to hold the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs, but just the news of the sport's planned return should be enough for hockey-starved fans to cheer.

Get the latest news and analysis on all of your teams from NBC Sports Boston by downloading the My Teams App

Once safety guidelines allow for play to resume, 12 participating clubs from each conference will report to one of two hub cities where all remaining games will be played.

Commissioner Bettman did not announce which cities would serve as the league's hubs, but he did announce that the league has narrowed the options to the following 10 cities:

  • Chicago, IL
  • Columbus, OH
  • Dallas, TX
  • Edmonton, AB
  • Las Vegas, NV
  • Los Angeles, CA
  • Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN
  • Pittsburgh, PA
  • Toronto, ON
  • Vancouver, BC

The decision on which two cities will be selected will depend on "COVID-19 conditions, testing availability, and government regulations" according to Bettman.

The league has not yet announced dates for the playoffs or the exact format for how the field will be narrowed from 24 teams down to the eventual two teams that will play for the Stanley Cup, but any glimmer of information about hockey's return is great news for a sport that has been on hold for two and a half months.