Zdeno Chara wants to keep playing for the Boston Bruins.
The 43-year-old defenseman just finished his 22nd NHL season (14th in Boston), which ended with the Bruins losing to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the second round of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Given Chara's age and all that he's accomplished in his Hall of Fame career, it's natural to wonder if he'd consider retirement. But in his end-of-the-season press conference Thursday morning, Chara made his desire to return to the Bruins clear.
"I want to stay in Boston, I want to be a Boston Bruin and I want to continue to lead by example and share my experiences and my game skills with the younger players and my teammates. That hasn’t changed. I’m committed, so we’ll see what’s going to happen next.”
Chara also revealed he's told his agent to meet with Bruins management and figure out what's next.
"I'm excited about the future of this team. We are going to do whatever we can to win another Stanley Cup. I can't really reflect on some of the rumors," Chara said. "I have not heard any of these rumors directly and I dismiss any kind of conversation and comments on this matter because it might cause unnecessary distractions to my teammates and the organization.
"I expressed to my agent that I would like him to meet with management and make that my priority, the sooner the better, and see what the future holds."
For Chara, is it a return to the Bruins or he doesn't play anymore?
"If it comes down to that, that's something we can talk about later," Chara said. "I love Boston. I love the city. I think we have the best fans in the world. I have no plans to move or go anywhere else. We will see what the future holds."
Chara is no longer the Norris Trophy-caliber defenseman he had been for much of his career. He had a lesser role for the B's this season and in the playoffs -- his 21:01 of ice time per game during the regular season was the lowest of his career since 2000.
But despite his age, he's still capable of being a solid third pairing defenseman who can provide reliable minutes on the penalty kill. His leadership on and off the ice as team captain also is of immense value to the team.
The Bruins would be wise to bring back Chara on a contract similar to the one-year, $2 million deal he had for 2019-20.