Zdeno Chara still believes he has more to give as an NHL player, and the opportunity to prove that with the Washington Capitals was good enough for him to take his talents to the nation's capital.
Chara will join the Capitals on a one-year contract worth $795,000. The move, which was officially announced Wednesday, ends his 14-year tenure with the Bruins that included a 2011 Stanley Cup title.
Bruins general manager Don Sweeney admitted Thursday that the club offered Chara a contract "months ago", but that his role might not have been the same as it was for over a decade.
"We describe it as an integrated role and just didn’t make a categorical promise that he would have the exact same role that he had had in certainly his 14 – a historic career with the Boston Bruins," Sweeney said in a Zoom call.
Chara, in his own Zoom call with reporters Thursday, explained that he envisioned himself taking on a larger role during the 2020-21 season than what the Bruins presented.
“I want to mention that I believe Don Sweeney negotiated in good faith, and I appreciated the way everything was communicated to me and he was very open to me,” Chara said. “We had a number of conversations, he made it clear what conditions and what role I would be taking with the organization if I returned.
"But I just felt what was presented to me and what conditions were attached to it, I just felt that I had more to offer and I respect their decisions and wish them the best. But I just felt I can still play regularly and play the games and I have no issues with them going a different direction, I just feel like for me at this point in my career it’s better if I continue to play.”
What exactly would Chara's role have been with the B's?
"I respect the way it was communicated to me. We had a number of conversations," Chara said. "Early on, it was probably a little bit unknown what the role would be, but as the conversations progressed toward the end, it was very clear to me that I would not be in the starting lineup for the season or starting some games or playing some back-to-back games. I would be more of a reserve type of player.
"I have no issue with that, and a lot of credit to Don Sweeney for how he handled the situation. For me, I felt it would be a better fit for me if I find a better role with another team and step aside and let the Bruins go with the direction they chose to do."
So, does that mean Chara will have a regular role on the Capitals blue line this season?
"There's no specifics. There's no guarantee. I just want to have a chance to compete," Chara said.
The Bruins are going to give the younger defensemen in their organization a chance to prove themselves at the NHL level this season.
It's not a horrible strategy in general, but in a 56-game shortened season with an abbreviated training camp and a lack of experience on the blue line with the recent departures of Chara and Torey Krug, it's a plan that could quickly backfire on Boston.
From the Capitals' perspective, this move was a no-brainer. Washington is a team in win-now mode that's motivated to return to the Stanley Cup Final after finally winning it for the first time in 2018.