By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
Here's your latest example of why Zdeno Chara is an absolute lunatic.
The Bruins captain skated on Thursday at TD Garden, practicing in full. In a regular jersey, meaning he was likely cleared for full contact. And head coach Bruce Cassidy says that Chara, despite reportedly suffering a broken jaw in Game 4 on Monday night, is a game-time decision to play in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final against the St. Louis Blues.
Chara wore a full facemask with his helmet during practice as he recovers from what Cassidy termed on Wednesday as a "facial injury". One would assume that a broken jaw would be too much for Chara to overcome within three days. Chara isn't just any other human.
Multiple reports around the league and even former NHL players have suggested that Chara could make the ultimate sacrifice and play right through his broken jaw. Former NHL-er Jeremy Roenick once broke his jaw against the Stars on April 14, 1999 then returned to play in a playoff game for the Coyotes just 20 days later on May 4.
"Pain goes away, pride is forever," Roenick told 98.5 The Sports Hub's Zolak & Bertrand when asked about the dangers of playing through such an injury.
Of course, playing with a broken jaw three days later is different from returning 20 days later after surgery. Perhaps Chara has a crack in his jaw and it's not totally snapped in two. This is all absurd to talk about. But we're talking about hockey players, here.
The closest comparison to Chara, assuming he is indeed dealing with a broken jaw (Cassidy said he does not have a concussion), is Coyotes center Derek Stepan. In 2014 with the Rangers, he suffered a broken jaw at the hands of a dirty hit from former NHL-er Brandon Prust. That was in Game 3 of the 2014 Eastern Conference Final. Stepan actually returned to that game, but had to miss Game 4 before returning five days after the injury in Game 5.
So if Chara does end up playing on Thursday, it would still be kind of unprecedented. Perhaps he's had a procedure on his jaw that will come out after the series is over. Either way, playing just three days after breaking your jaw is just incredible. At the end of the day it's down to team doctors, not Chara. But you can imagine the pressure on those guys right now.
Chara playing with a jaw that he broke earlier this week would be one of the ultimate warrior moves in Boston sports history. It would certainly live on forever as an iconic moment if the Bruins end up hoisting the Stanley Cup. Even if they don't it could become iconic anyway. There's no understating how wild this story has become.
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at [email protected].