By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
After 14 years together, Zdeno Chara and the Boston Bruins have called it quits.
A free agent for the first time since the Bruins made him the greatest free agent signing in league history back in 2006, the 43-year-old Chara was told that the B’s would be moving on with their youth movement. And instead of retiring, which was at one point on the table as an option, Chara decided to take his talents to Washington as a member of the Capitals.
It was a definite stunner. Picturing Zee in any jersey other than a B’s one seemed almost impossible at this point.
But it was a break that came with overwhelming praise from the B’s ownership and management team.
“It’s been a wonderful fourteen seasons with Zdeno’s talent, leadership and personality,” B’s owner Jeremy Jacobs said in a series of statements released by the team Wednesday evening. “He played a tremendous and enduring role in the success of the team each and every season he put on a Bruins uniform. Zdeno and his family will always be in the hearts of this team, my family and the entire Boston community. Thank you, Zdeno.”
“For the past fourteen years, Zdeno Chara has exemplified what it truly means to be a Boston Bruin, both on and off the ice,” said Bruins CEO Charlie Jacobs. “We are incredibly grateful for everything Zdeno has done for the organization, and the entire New England region, during his tenure as Captain. Thank you, Zdeno.”
“In my 30 years with the Bruins organization, I have had the privilege to get to know so many great Bruins legends,” Bruins general manager Don Sweeney’s statement read. “Zdeno Chara’s impact on the city of Boston and the Bruins organization firmly places him among the best of the best of Boston sports icons.
“I personally and professionally want to thank Zdeno for sharing his talents, his leadership, his courage and his will to win! I wish Zdeno and his family the very best with their decision to join another organization at this time. Zdeno and his family will always be a member of the Bruins Family!”
Team president Cam Neely, who didn’t even work for the team when Chara first joined the Bruins from Ottawa (and New York before that) in 2006, detailed his own experience getting to know the towering Slovak.
“Zdeno’s dedication to the game, his teammates and Bruins fans has been everything we could have hoped for in a player and specifically as our captain for 14 years,” Neely’s statement read. “His achievements — which are too many to list both on and off the ice — will forever be a part of Bruins history.
“On behalf of the Bruins organization I want to thank Zdeno for all that he has done for the Bruins, and wish him, Tatiana, Ellis, Zach and Ben well in the future. The Chara family will always remain Bruins.”
Chara departs the Bruins having won a Norris Trophy as the league’s top defenseman in 2009, and captaining the Bruins to a Stanley Cup championship in 2011, and leading them to the Cup Final in both 2013 and 2019. The 6-foot-9 Chara is also one of just six players in franchise history to play at least 1,000 games in a Bruins uniform.