A year of surprises has one more in store for Boston Bruins fans.
Free-agent defenseman Zdeno Chara has signed with the Washington Capitals on a one-year, $795,000 contract, the team announced Wednesday.
Chara's departure is a stunning development for the former Bruins captain, who anchored Boston's blue line for 14 years. Chara's agent recently said the Bruins have been "very communicative" with the defenseman's camp, but that they were "assessing Z's options going forward."
The 43-year-old announced Wednesday on Instagram that he and the Bruins have parted ways, noting that it was Boston's decision not to bring him back. According to The Athletic's Pierre LeBrun and TSN's Frank Seravalli, the Capitals had plenty of competition for Chara's services.
Chara signed back-to-back one-year extensions with Boston after his seven-year, $45.5 million contract expired in 2018. He's shown signs of decline over the last two seasons and saw his average time on ice dip below 22 minutes for the first time since his second season in 1998-99.
Still, Chara was the heart and soul of a Bruins team that won a Stanley Cup (2011) and reached two more (2013 and 2019) during his Boston tenure. While the B's still have Charlie McAvoy and can replace Chara's talent on the ice, his massive leadership void will be a tall order to fill.