By now all of hockey Twitter and the city of Boston have heard the news that longtime Captain Zdeno Chara has left the Bruins. While fans and sports media are undoubtedly going through a sea of emotions, it'll be hard to simply put into words just how much Chara meant to this city. And what he meant to us: the fans.
With the season drawing closer to starting, things were at a standstill as the organization was awaiting Chara's decision. While both GM Don Sweeney and President Cam Neely offered a few updates here and there, the signing of Chara would be one of the final pieces. Debates all across social media dissected whether he should go or stay for less money. So while the news was somewhat expected, it was nonetheless shocking. The kicker: the 14-year Bruin veteran signed on with the Washington Capitals for a one-year, $795,000 contract.
Longevity, thy name is Zdeno Chara
The 43-year-old defenseman has made a huge permanent dent in Boston Bruins history. Having played in a Black and Gold jersey for the last 14 seasons, we as fans never imagined number 33 playing elsewhere. We assumed that Chara would retire as a Bruin (much like another longtime "New England" player). And we always assumed that he would play his last game at the TD Garden in front of a roaring crowd. But things didn't turn out that way and yes, it hurts a bit.
In the world of sports, the business side can sometimes be ugly. As the dust settles down, theories will naturally float around about whether or not the Bruins organization really did all they could to keep their captain around. Nothing will make sense, and to some it'll look like there's no real plan in place. But to look at it objectively the team had to start looking to the future; to the younger players. As painful as it is to say, one can understand why Chara and the Bruins organization decided to part ways. But as a fan, Boston is losing much more than just an "aging" player. The team will be losing one of their best penalty-killing defensemen and with the loss of Krug, it's going to take some time for the team to adjust.
Forever Our Captain
Words are futile in describing the impact and how Chara was the epitome of humanity (and class) when it comes to the sports world. From the decades of leadership on the ice to his many charitable efforts off the ice, Zdeno Chara was and will always be an important part of the community. A community that embraced him since he came here in 2006. The Boston Bruins made multiple appearances for the Stanley Cup Finals and in 2011, Chara hoisted the cup, and the city thanked him for that. Big Z truly embodied what it meant to be a Bruin and the respect he has throughout the entire league goes without saying.
Like all hockey players, he gave his body for the sport as he played through pain and many injuries. In a memorable moment after revealing he had a fractured jaw, the Captain was overwhelmed with fans response:
The city of Boston has enjoyed being the city of Champions for decades, however, the landscape has now changed. Every team will be going through a rebuilding phase and the Bruins will now be led by another player. The season opens up in January and with Z returning to the Garden wearing another jersey, things will seem a bit...off. While one can't predict nor can Chara himself predict, how much longer he can play, as fans we will continue to support and embrace Big Z.
All one can say is this:
Thank you, Chara.
Thank you for all you did for the team, the community, and the city. Forever a Bruin.
"As I begin this next chapter, I want the people of Boston to know how proud I was to be a Bruin and how grateful I am for all the support over the years. "Thank You" does not seem adequate to express my sincere gratitude. I will always be Bruin. I will always love Boston.
Thank you"Zdeno Chara
Featured Image Courtesy of Brian Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images
Follow me on @pastagrl88