By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
Bruins captain Zdeno Chara knows that the NHL's plan to return to action with a 24-team playoff format isn't perfect.
This is almost doubly true for a team like Chara's, as the Bruins will return with the possibility of losing the No. 1 seed they earned through 70 games of hard work and a Presidents' Trophy should they falter in their three-game, round-robin tournament for seeding.
But the 43-year-old captain is choosing to look at the opportunity in front of them with some real-life perspective.
"We have to be grateful for the opportunity that we're getting when you look at the real-life perspective, what other families, businesses are going through," Chara, who trekked back to Boston from his Florida home ahead of the NHL's move to Phase 2, offered in a Zoom conference with reporters on Thursday. "We're getting the opportunity to almost start where we ended the season.
"Not everybody is getting the same chance. A lot of people lost a lot of financial support [and] businesses went down, and they will never get the same opportunity."
Man, talk about an athlete who gets it.
In a nightmarish world that's dealing with almost nothin' but tragedy -- and in almost every possible aspect of life -- Chara has no time to worry about potentially dropping from the No. 1 to the No. 4 seed in a round-robin return against the Capitals, Flyers, and Lightning. Or that the league increased its list of potential Cup winners by eight, up from its normal field of 16. Instead, he's decided to focus on the hard work it took to make this feel like a viable path towards crowning a Stanley Cup champion this summer.
"It's never gonna be set in stone as you would have after an 82-game regular season. I think you have to give these guys a lot of credit because they worked extremely hard to come up with a format that's been presented," said Chara. "People involved were — almost daily — talking to the player reps, players, different advisors to come up with the best possible solution. I think at this point, it does affect everyone and every team. It's one of those things that you can't really blame anyone or feel that it's unfair."
Chara and Co.'s return to the ice will begin with a move into Phase 2, which is expected to happen in early June, as players will reconvene in small-group, non-contact skates and workouts at team facilities. For the Bruins, that would mean a return to Brighton's Warrior Ice Arena, which has been closed since Mar. 13, and with all players participating understanding the potential risk that comes with trying to restart a season amid a global pandemic.
But the 6-foot-9 rock on the backend will continue to preach the mentality he feels is most important in times like this.
"We have to be grateful for the opportunity and take it as a huge motivation and kind of embrace it," said Chara.