When I was 12 and began playing hockey, I said I wanted to play until I was 50. I’ve done well over the years as I’ve surpassed that mark. But I play because I like it and not professionally.
Boston Bruins elder statesman, defenseman Zdeno Chara turned 40 in March, and both he and the Bruins are talking about a contract extension. Just how long, no one knows. Chara still remains a key cog anchoring the blue line along with a bunch of youngsters that look to him for guidance and stability. But can he be that stalwart that he has been in past years or will that body of his breakdown as he enters his fifth decade of life? Going into the 2017-18 season, it will be his final year of his contract (signed at the start of the 2010-11 season). He has expressed interest in continuing to play in Boston and retire as a Bruin.
Can Chara’s Ice Time Remain at 20 Minutes or More?
Chara’s ice time has never diminished during his time in Boston and at times during last year, it seemed father time was catching up to him. “I love it. I want to be on the ice all the time and used in all situations” was his response when asked about an extension. He is now the oldest player in the league. Last season he scored 10 goals and 29 points in 75 games while averaging 23:19 time on ice, his lowest as a member of the Bruins. However, in the six games against the Ottawa Senators in last years playoff loss, Chara took on a ginormous workload, averaging 28:45 time on ice. His ice time may be great at the start of the season as Torey Krug will be out for the remainder of the preseason and at least the first few games of the regular season.
Following the playoff loss to Ottawa, Chara chose not to play with Slovakia in the World Championships, He did not want to extend his personal hockey season. He would have liked the opportunity to have played in the upcoming 2018 Olympics, however, Commissioner Gary Bettman has ruled out the possibility of any NHL players going to South Korea.
When Does Chara Say Times Up?
When does he plan on hanging up the skates and calling it a career? “I can’t really put a number on that. I want to play, have fun, and compete and work hard.” He wants to “do it as long as I can and as long as I am effective.”
And on retiring with the Spoked-B on his chest, Chara says, “Anything can happen in hockey. As much as it’s sport, it’s still beautiful to have players staying with one team and retiring with that team.
The Bruins and Chara have not talked about a new contract yet. Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney saying there is no “timetable to have those discussions.” “I think he wants to play, he can do it, he’s an impactful player. Hopefully, we can look forward to having him while he monitors how long he wants to play.”
Will Chara Win Another Cup?
It’s been six seasons since that primal guttural scream from Chara when he hoisted the Stanley Cup. The night the Bruins won their third game seven of the playoffs that year in Vancouver. That win gave the team and their fans the first hockey championship in 39 years. The influx of young defensive talents such as Brandon Carlo and Charlie McAvoy, Chara’s TOI may diminish a bit. Also, includes mentoring and giving confidence to the youngsters. Allowing for more rest for the big man. When nearing the seasons’ end and a possible long playoff run, he will be somewhat fresh, for what will be a 41-year-old battle-tested veteran defenseman. After all, no one wants to wait another 39 years to “get the duck boats ready!”