Boston Bruins

BOSTON, MA - APRIL 25: Zdeno Chara #33 of the Boston Bruins looks on in Game One of the Eastern Conference Second Round against the Columbus Blue Jackets during the 2019 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at TD Garden on April 25, 2019 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images)

By Ty Anderson,

Free agent defenseman and 14-year Bruins captain Zdeno Chara is truly assessing all his options for the 2021 NHL season.

But as agent Matt Keator told The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun on Monday night, Chara’s desired outcome seems clear.

“I’ve had 20-plus teams reach out to me, but his focus right now is to talk to Boston,” Keator told LeBrun. “He still has the option to retire. But he seems very interested in playing if it’s the right fit.’’

All of this checks out.

When the 43-year-old Chara committed to playing hockey in 2021, he acknowledged that he wanted that to be in Boston. He wouldn’t outright say that it was Boston or bust, but it was obvious that Chara, who splits his time between Boston and Florida, felt that there was unfinished business with the Bruins. Chara also drew interest from ‘numerous’ teams at the start of free agency, so it’s not hard to imagine contending teams looking at him as a low-risk, high-reward signing and circling back his way with a season officially set.

The Bruins, meanwhile, have been extremely careful not to speak in absolutes in regards to Chara’s status.

And that continued on Monday afternoon.

“We certainly respect Zdeno and everything he’s done for the organization and what he’s accomplished as a player and what he’s done both on and off the ice here in Boston,” team president Cam Neely said when asked about Chara’s potential role in 2021. “So, you know, it’s really just a matter of what his desire is and how the coaching staff and we feel what our lineup should or could look like depending on the development of some of these young guys.”

That feels like a slight deviation from the “we’re waiting for Chara to initiate talks” line from just two months ago.

But a decision does seem to be on the horizon, as Keator also told LeBrun that he expects to talk with the Bruins, who have just under $3 million in available cap space, in the next few days.

Ty Anderson is a writer and columnist for Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Yell at him on Twitter: @_TyAnderson.