Boston Bruins

MONTREAL, QC - APRIL 18: Travis Moen #32 of the Montreal Canadiens chases after Zdeno Chara #33 of the Boston Bruins as he turns up ice with the puck in Game Three of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at Bell Centre on April 18, 2011 in Montreal, Canada. (Photo by Phillip MacCallum/Getty Images)

By Ty Anderson,

Believe it or not, now ex-Bruins captain Zdeno Chara’s departure from the Boston Bruins could have been even worse.

That may sound borderline unbelievable after Chara’s bargain contract with the now-divisional rival Caps, but one team name is all you need to hear for it to sink in: the Montreal Canadiens. I know, I know. This sounds like the stuff of nightmares that’d leave you in a cold sweat. You either can’t or don’t want to even think about this. But it was apparently something that indeed had a chance of becoming a reality before Chara’s move to Washington.

“Told (the Canadiens) were trying to sign Zdeno Chara,” Ren Lavoie of TVA Sports reported Wednesday night. “He liked the way the team was build in Montreal during the offseason but decided not to play for a Canadian team because of issues related to COVID-19. His family will stay in Boston during the season.”

It’s a shock on the surface, but in a way, it makes sense.

The Canadiens had a solid offseason, adding forwards Tyler Toffoli and Corey Perry in free agency and trading for the Jackets’ Josh Anderson. (Two of those guys were obvious B’s targets this offseason.) Their defense still features Shea Weber, and Carey Price is still the man in Montreal’s net and had what appeared to be a resurgence in the Canadiens’ upset play-in series victory over the Penguins and solid showing against Philly this past summer. And the Canadiens are, of course, coached by Claude Julien, who coached Chara with the Bruins from 2007 through his firing in Feb. 2017.

The only true shock beyond the obvious would have come with Chara playing for fans that greeted him with deafening boos every time he touched the puck and even called 911 on him 10 years ago after his incident with Max Pacioretty. They’d also finally be allowed to hug him for reasons unrelated to a free Big Mac sandwich. A win-win for everyone… except us!

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The 43-year-old Chara also drew interest from 20 teams, according to his agent. So, Marc Bergervin’s Canadiens had a considerable chance of being among that 20 based on the odds alone. 67 percent, to be exact.

But we were spared from such a horror, and will instead have to deal with Chara as a Capital. It’s a perfect year for that, too, with the Bruins and Capitals set to do battle in a staggering eight head-to-heads in the East Division in 2021.

So, congrats on 2020 ending by thanking a pandemic for not taking the 14-year B’s captain to Montreal.

Weirdest year ever. And it could’ve been even weirder.

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.

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