Bruins

Chara doesn't like the term 'rookie' and it's part of the Bruins' success

Chara doesn't like the term 'rookie' and it's part of the Bruins' success

BRIGHTON, Mass. – Zdeno Chara has long been vocal about being inclusive and fostering an environment of togetherness within the Bruins dressing room that he’s captained for the last 13 years. That’s what makes him one of the NHL’s best captains during his era playing in the NHL and it’s what has made the Bruins a playoff team in 10 of the 13 seasons that he’s led the Black and Gold during an impressive tenure of leadership and success.

So it wasn’t a shock that the 42-year-old Chara reiterated that he doesn’t like the term “rookie” that tends to separate the first-year players from everybody else within the B’s dressing room, when he was asked about lending his learned experience to help younger D-men like Charlie McAvoy and Brandon Carlo.

“If I can make some small part of it by doing what I love to do and doing it every day… if that can help them to see that, then I’ll be more than happy for them to see that, and maybe learn something. If I can help them in any way I’d love to,” said Chara, while addressing the media following Monday’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena. “Age doesn’t really separate the conversations or the personalities. I’ve been saying that for a long time.

“We are treating everybody the same way no matter if somebody is 18, or 40, or somebody has 1,000 games or is playing in their first game. We treat everybody with respect in the same way as everybody else in the locker room. I’ve said it many times. Since a very young age, I didn’t like the separation in a team between young players and older players, [or] players who have accomplished something or players that are just coming into the league. I don’t like to use the word ‘rookie.’ They are our teammates. I just don’t like to separate. I don’t think that’s the right thing to do. Once you’re a team, you’re a team regardless of the age, or accomplishments. We have to treat each other with respect and the same way.”

There are plenty of stories written these days about the power of Bruins leadership, and the big factor it plays in the success that Boston has enjoyed on its current run to the Stanley Cup Final. Chara gave a little peek behind the curtain to the B’s leadership group with his comments on Monday, and it’s pretty clear to see why Boston’s strong veteran leaders play such a big role in the B’s sustained success. 

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Zdeno Chara joins Patrice Bergeron in admirable action this week while attending Boston protest

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File photo

Zdeno Chara joins Patrice Bergeron in admirable action this week while attending Boston protest

The Boston Bruins leadership group has shown they are about more than simple lip service and social media posts when it comes to what’s been going on in this country over the last few weeks.

Patrice Bergeron made a $50,000 donation to a pair of worthy causes this week in the Boston branch of the NAACP and Centre Multiethnique de Quebec while releasing a lengthy, passionate statement through the Bruins.

B's captain Zdeno Chara was spotted in all his 6-foot-9 glory walking in Boston on Friday afternoon during one of the protests through the city streets while sporting a Bruins mask in the crowd.

None of this is a surprise as both the 43-year-old Chara and the 33-year-old Bergeron have fostered a welcoming, friendly environment in the Bruins dressing over the years. The Bruins veterans don’t even really use the word “rookie” because Chara has always believed that it creates unnecessary separation between younger and older teammates that shouldn’t exist in a team setting.

Bergeron is partially credited with helping pull a black teammate named Gemel Smith out of a mental funk that he was mired in during his time with the Bruins. Bergeron urged Smith to talk to somebody professionally when he sensed that something wasn’t quite right with his new teammate and it helped Smith turn things around personally and professionally when he was with the Tampa Bay Lightning this season.

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Smith ended up playing just three games with the Bruins last season after being picked up on waivers, but even in that brief time Bergeron had managed to reach out and make a connection with the player that made a lasting impact. That’s exactly the kind of healthy, welcoming dressing room that’s made the Bruins a success over the years.

There isn’t a long history of black players with the Bruins in recent years as Smith, Jarome Iginla and Malcolm Subban are the only black NHLers to suit up with Boston over the last decade. So there haven't been a great deal of opportunities for Bergeron, Chara and the rest of the B’s leadership core to show just much they embrace the diversity and equal treatment for all that so many around the NHL are voicing in the days since George Floyd was horrifically killed by Minneapolis police officers.

But give full credit to both Bergeron and Chara for stepping up this week, representing the Bruins in a manner they would be proud of and showing that it’s about actions as much as -- if not more than -- words when it comes to promoting equal treatment for all, and a better tomorrow for people of all races and backgrounds.

Breaking down the winners and losers of NHL 24-team season return format

Breaking down the winners and losers of NHL 24-team season return format

The NHL has their 24-team postseason format and they’ve even drilled down on some of the specifics this week.

We still don’t know exactly when the Stanley Cup postseason can start or when NHL training camps would be going full speed ahead. Also, all of the matchups beyond the “qualifying round” are still very much in the air.

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Clearly there is still plenty we don’t know about the Stanley Cup Playoffs once the NHL presses the play button in the next few months.

But we do know enough about the proposed postseason to know who will benefit, and who will be getting the short end of the stick. So that’s enough to put together the always popular winners and losers list when it comes to the new NHL postseason format. 

Click here for the gallery.