As the oldest player in the NHL, Bruins captain Zdeno Chara doesn't really know when his last chance to win another Stanley Cup will come.
It might have been last season when the 43-year-old Chara led the B’s to within a Game 7 of winning a Stanley Cup against the St. Louis Blues only to brutally come up just short. Then again, it looked like Chara and the Bruins had another solid chance this year while leading the entire NHL with 100 points with roughly a month left to go in the regular season.
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Then, things were put on pause due to a coronavirus outbreak that has brought the entire world to a standstill.
For aging players like Chara, 34-year-old Patrice Bergeron, 33-year-old David Krejci and 33-year-old Tuukka Rask, this season might be their last, best chance to win another Stanley Cup before the championship window perhaps begins to close on the Black and Gold.
Chara was asked how much that was on his mind as he sits in his Florida home with his wife and children while waiting out the coronavirus outbreak with no real knowledge as to when, or if, hockey will be back around the NHL this season.
Clearly his mind is on the seriousness of the situation, as the priority is on getting people through the next few weeks when the outbreak could be at its most intense in the US. But Chara also said the unknown of it all with this season is more than a little disconcerting.
“It is obviously one of those situations that you can’t really control. Right now we all have to look after each other and look after our families,” said Chara, on a Zoom webinar conference call with reporters organized by the NHL on Monday afternoon. “I know it’s kind of a cliché answer in these days, but hockey is really secondary. If you have to look at it that way then, yeah, it’s kind of hard to look at the pause on the league at the stage where we were at.
“With only a few games until the playoffs and so close to the playoffs with the team playing well and with confidence, we were obviously in a good place. But who knows? We can’t always wish for the perfect situation. These types of situations do happen once in a while. Hopefully we play again and we’ll see when that’s going to be.”
With places like California, New York City and Florida getting hit hardest by the coronavirus right now, even a conference call with hockey players was about thanking medical personnel, first responders and other people stepping into the breach right now.
“These are strange times. There are challenges we’re all facing right now. Most of us are away from the things we love to do. The things we don’t have to work, to play and to entertain people. Hopefully we get through this. A huge, big thank you has to go to the medical professionals, the people that are volunteering and the people that are delivering food,” said Chara. “It just takes time. We have to stay patient, and safe, and disciplined. There is no other way to do it, but to do it together.”
The words are inspiring for the longest-running captain in the NHL and one of the best leaders of his generation in all of pro sports. Hopefully, Chara and the Bruins get that chance to see good they can be in the playoffs over the next four months with an NHL that’s going to do everything they can to make sure there is a postseason conclusion to a 2019-20 regular season that had been almost entirely played out.