At 43 years old, it’s possible that Monday’s Game 5 loss could have been Zdeno Chara’s last game with the Boston Bruins.
Next season could look a lot different for the Boston Bruins for multiple reasons, but quite literally one of the biggest changes on the team depends on whether Zdeno Chara returns to the team or not.
While Chara hasn’t made a decision either way at this point, it’s fair to wonder whether or not the oldest player in the NHL will decide to return for another season. While his days of winning a Norris Trophy are behind him, Chara still proves to be a valuable member of this team.
Even though his role on the ice may be diminished, Chara remains arguably the most important person in the dressing room for the Bruins. There’s a reason why he has been the captain for so long, and a big part of why Boston has been able to build a winning culture.
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At this point in his career, it seems most likely that Chara’s options are either return to Boston or retire. Playing for a different team at this point doesn’t seem likely.
If he does return to the Bruins, it will likely be on a deal very similar to the one he signed for this season, coming with a cap hit of $2 million and AAV of $3.75 million when you factor in the potential performance bonuses.
There’s a good chance that a new deal would be worth even less money. Either way, Chara’s future will be decided on his own terms.
In any other season this would seem relatively straight forward. But this isn’t a normal season, and there is still uncertainty as to if and when the NHL will be able to start the 2020-21 season.
As of right now, the season is tentatively scheduled to begin on December 1, but the NHL will need to come up with a game-plan in order to make that happen. Will teams be allowed to travel like usual, or will there need to be another sort of bubble situation set up in order to play games?
If there is a bubble, maybe Big Z decides that it isn’t worth it to leave his family for so long again. There’s also a possibility that the season doesn’t happen at all.
If this is the end for Zdeno Chara, it does seem unfortunate for him to go out without getting a proper send off from fans at the TD Garden.
After being the leader of the Bruins for so long, it would certainly be a strange feeling going into next season without #33 on the roster.