Bruins vs. Zdeno Chara: Boston players in his absence, continuous impact “People like him don’t come every day”
Brad Marchand, a notorious verbal provocateur, said he expects to be a bit calmer on Saturday. Marchand said he had no plans to tweet his former teammate Zdeno Chara when the Bruins take on the Capitals in Washington, DC.
“No. You don’t want to sting the bear. He’s the kind of guy where when he’s over there you’re an adversary,” Marchand said. “He won’t have friends there. He will compete and fight. I am not going to sting the bear in any way. The greatest thing I can do is try to get away from him. If you are within his reach then you are not going to zero leaves and he’s obviously one of the best defensemen in the world and he’s going to be tough to face.
After 14 years in Boston, the 43-year-old defenseman signed with the Capitals as a free agent. He thought he had more to offer than the smaller role the Bruins gave him if he stayed.
“We will do our best. I wouldn’t expect anything different. Hopefully our guys are up to the task, ”said Bruce Cassidy. “He’s bled black and gold here for years. I think he’s going to want to show his teammates and everyone in the organization that he can still bring it. I wouldn’t expect anything less.
So far in Washington, he’s averaged 20 minutes and 29 seconds of ice time per game, which is the lowest of his career but more than any Bruin other than Charlie McAvoy. Chara has a plus-7 rating and scored his first goal as a Capital on Thursday night.
Chara has said he appreciates his new teammates, but cherishes his still strong relationship with the guys he plays against.
“I have been very lucky and blessed to have so many friendships and close relationships with guys over the 14 years,” said Chara who was asked specifically about Marchand and Patrice Bergeron and added. “These are guys we’ve been on the same team with for a very long time. I love them as if they were my brothers. We were able to win the Stanley Cup together. It goes a long way. We understand this is a business. We have to play for our team and compete there, but at the same time, we have something very deep that goes back a long way. We will cherish these memories and the celebrations we have had.
TD Garden’s Causeway St. Pro Shop has been closed all season due to the pandemic and was closed prior to Chara’s departure. But it’s always on for anyone walking past. A peek inside reveals that the Chara jerseys and t-shirts are still on display. They have been a feature on these racks for a long time.
Bruins players expected to see him in a uniform not for sale on these racks to be odd.
“It will be good to see him. It will be strange not to see him in a Bruins jersey, ”said Cassidy. “He’s a good person. Hope we have a friendship down the road as a guy who helped me a lot when I got here. He probably helped me a lot more than I helped him. He had been in the league for a long time. I have always enjoyed it.
Chara was paired with McAvoy at the end of his time in Boston. McAvoy said he would never get used to Chara being an opponent.
“It’s going to be really weird to see him on the other side of the ice. I don’t know if that’s something I’m going to be able to overcome or see it in a Capitals jersey and I think it’s fair, ”said McAvoy. “I think his presence is totally irreplaceable. The magnitude of who he is as a player and a person, people like him don’t come around every day. It is obviously different. “
David Pastrnak said that when he arrived in Boston as a teenager, Chara was very influential.
“When I was 18 and walked into the venue we spoke the same language so he’s helped me a lot,” said Pastrnak, who is set to debut in 2020-21 on Saturday. “He gave me a lot of his time, a bunch of dinners. I can’t thank him enough for him. He taught me to be a pro, to be honest. For a young player it is not always easy and he definitely helped me in my professional career and in the way to behave like a pro off and especially on the ice.
Still stoic defender Chara thinks his attention to his former team is overdone.
“I don’t think it will be so much for me to play against Boston. These are two good teams playing for two points, ”he said. “I will prepare myself the same way I have been preparing for many years.”