After failing to agree to another one-year deal with the Bruins, Zdeno Chara and the Capitals sent shockwaves through the hockey universe when Washington announced a one-year, $795,000 deal on Wednesday. Already boasting leaders like Alex Ovechkin, Tom Wilson, TJ Oshie, and John Carlson on the roster, the Capitals now add yet another veteran with championship pedigree in Chara.
Just like many of his bone-crunching hits on the ice, Chara won't allow any of his teammates to lose sight of the ultimate goal during this 56-game 2021 season -- winning the Stanley Cup.
"There's going to be a lot of accountability," ESPN's Emily Kaplan said on SportsCenter. "I know he declined a bit last season while he was at Boston, but I'm telling you this guy is a workout feen. He's going to be a serviceable defenseman, he'll make the top-six."
Chara, at age 43 and year 23 in the NHL, indicated he still believes he has something to offer the Caps backline by signing the one-year deal. Before agreeing to play for what will be his fourth team in the league, the Slovakian defenseman did everything in his power to remain a Bruin.
Chara and the Bruins management stayed in contact all offseason to see if they can work up a deal, Kaplan said, but similar to the way Boston parted ways with 29-year-old Torey Krug walk in free agency, the Boston front office wants to get much younger on the fly.
"Now 'Z' I'm told had about 20 offers, there was obviously interest there. He just had to figure out what worked out well for him and his family," Kaplan said.
After winning the Stanley Cup in 2018, the Capitals have crashed out of the postseason in the first round the past two seasons. With an aging core and a shrinking title contention window, Washington brought in a player who knows what to do with a wealth of playoff experience under his belt.
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"After Barry Trotz left they promoted Todd Rierden, but it just wasn't working out," Kaplan said. "A lot of the veterans, including Alex Ovechkin, said they wanted someone to bring that urgency back, bring that structure. So they hired Peter Laviolette to be that guy, now you add Zdeno Chara in the locker room - the closest thing you can get to a coach on the bench."
Back in September, Oshie spoke on the problems that led the Caps to bow out of the playoffs by way of Trotz's Islanders, languishing that not everyone gave it their all on the ice as they did during their 2018 title run.
Luckily, as Kaplan noted, Oshie also said he believed in what Laviolette's "upfront" style of coaching can bring to the table. Now, the new head coach will have the help of one of the game's most respected players to right the ship during a season where self-discipline will be especially important.
Due to the NHL's realignment of the league's divisions to accommodate for an all-Canadian grouping, Chara will be seeing quite a lot of his former team in 2021.
"But the number I keep coming back to is eight and that's the amount of times the Washington Capitals and Zdeno Chara face the Boston Bruins this season," Kaplan said.