Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy joined 98.5 The Sports Hub's Toucher and Rich on Wednesday to talk about the B's as they get ready for Thursday's season opener against the New Jersey Devils. The 2020-21 NHL season officially kicks off Wednesday night.
The big question for Cassidy is what he could share about Zdeno Chara's departure from the Bruins, who are officially going in a younger direction on defense after the 43-year-old signed with the Washington Capitals. Cassidy shed more light on how it went down, explaining that Chara was going to have a limited role so the Bruins could find out what they have underneath him with younger players in the system. Chara understood their decision and chose to go to D.C. because he felt he had a chance for more playing time there.
"We told him flat-out, we were honest, we have to look at these guys, so it's going to affect your minutes, where you play in the lineup, etc.," Cassidy said. "We had to be true to ourselves when we said that and look at [young] guys and he was perfectly OK with that, and he felt he had a better opportunity to play more on another team and that turned out to be Washington. So, that was it in a nutshell."
At the end of the day, Chara wasn't about to retire just yet. And that's why Cassidy, Don Sweeney and the Bruins had to make the tough decision to part ways with their longtime captain and move forward with their crop of young left-shot defensemen like Matt Grzelcyk, Jeremy Lauzon, and Jakub Zboril.
"I think he was adamant about still playing, and that's Zee, right?" Cassidy said. "He's a guy who prepares to play every game. He's in terrific shape. And that was prob the biggest issue here was, we could not promise him what he wanted. And so at the end of the day, you've got to respect what he wants and he obviously wants to keep playing."