The Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara is surely a future Hall Of Famer, but keeping him in the line-up right now may actually be detrimental to the team.
Of course, it’s never a decision the Boston Bruins want to make; why would any team want to sit their captain, especially when he is such a warrior like Zdeno Chara.
However some of his recent play suggests that the pace of the modern NHL is starting to prove a big challenge to his 43 year-old body.
While speed and acceleration have never been key to the way Zdeno Chara plays the game, they do still play a role in playing defense in the NHL.
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Both of these attributes have faded massively as Chara advances into his mid-40s and he’s showing more and more reliance on his partner Charlie McAvoy.
Even though he was never fast to begin with, Chara was able to be such a defensive beast because he had physical attributes like his intimidating size and huge reach. He combined that with an innate ability to read the game at speed to put his body in the right place at the right time.
Since the league returned, it feels like he’s taken a step back and the Boston Bruins often find Chara not quite in the right place anymore.
He is still an intimidating beast of a defenseman; that hasn’t changed. He’s still the team captain and leads truly by example; that hasn’t changed. The speed at which he can play the game; that has changed.
Thus if things don’t go too well through the early games of this first-round series, maybe Zdeno Chara needs to be sat for a game or two.
It’d be a truly controversial call and could actually cause some issues in terms of the team’s defensive pairings. If you sit Chara, who pairs with McAvoy; it’s hardly like you break up Brandon Carlo and Torey Krug.
This leads into free agency too. Ideal world, Zdeno Chara heads off into the sunset of retirement having lifted a second Stanley Cup as captain of the Boston Bruins.
Worst case scenario, we get bounced before the Stanley Cup Final and the Bruins are left with a tough decision of offering another one-year renewal or not. This potentially blocks the development of Jakub Zboril or Urho Vaakanainen, who both have no pathway to the roster right now.
We’re all but certain the Bruins won’t want to simply not renew Chara and let him leave without a proper send-off from the fanbase, but his play isn’t looking that great these days, to be frank.
Controversial, absolutely. Sometimes tough decisions have to be made.