The NHL has been on pause officially since March 12. During this time NHL players have been encouraged to self-isolate in a place of their choosing. Many foreign-born players have returned to their native countries. Not Zdeno Chara, who decided that while the NHL is on this extended and uncertain break, he would head to his home in Florida. There the kids have more room to roam about in beautiful weather and he can relax, train, and enjoy some un-New England-like weather.
Zdeno Chara has been outdoors lately. pic.twitter.com/j5RCkOZx4e
— Matt Porter (@mattyports) May 12, 2020
Chara held a Zoom chat with Bruins season ticket holders the other day and talked about a few things — but not his contract situation. The current longest tenured captain of an NHL team is not stressing about his contract ending at the end of this season, whenever that is. Right now he’s focused on being the captain and maintaining contact with his teammates, as both a captain/ mentor and as a friend.
“It was quite challenging early on,” Chara said Tuesday during a town hall with Bruins season ticket holders. “After we got postponed, I think everybody was in a situation of unknown waters. We were listening to news? We were waiting to see what we’re going to be able to do as a team, as individuals? Would we be able to stay in Boston? Could we leave?
“And after four or five weeks I realized we hadn’t really talked that much. We had a few exchanged text messages as a group but nothing from that point. So the last two, three weeks, we’ve been doing regularly some Zoom calls and trying to see each other, talk to each other, stay connected and keeping ourselves updated, so it’s been a lot of fun.”
That first Bruins Zoom call was April 28. Organized by team leaders Chara and Patrice Bergeron, it was just another example of the ways where Chara makes sure to reach out to his teammates. It’s something he’s done on an individual level for a while, because he is team captain and because that’s what he feels is right.
As for the return to play, Chara is firmly in the “wants to play” category, presuming that the NHLPA and the NHL can come to an agreement as to how to reopen the season safely. Chara is even willing to play without fans in arenas, as he says it will take many players back to their roots.
“I just prefer to play hockey, to be honest with you. Whether it’s jumping into the playoffs or playing some sort of games to get ready for the playoffs, you’ve just got to go with the flow.”
Most players agree that it would be unusual to play without fans, Chara included. But while the defenseman admitted it would be weird playing in empty arenas, he equated it to early days of hockey.
“That’s what it’s going to be if we start, that’s for sure,” Chara said. “We won’t be able to have fans in the stands. But you know what? It will kind of bring memories from back in the years we played as kids. We didn’t have really any fans in the stands — I know once I came over to play juniors in the Western Hockey League I was amazed. There were five, six, 10 thousand fans watching games. But back home we didn’t have that many fans watching at all. So definitely, it’s going to be something different, something we’re going to have to get used to. But yeah, I guess that’s the only way we can continue to play at this point.
Zdeno Chara believes “it has to be 3-4 weeks” of training camp before players feel ready to resume games this season.
— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) May 12, 2020
While he’s not stressed out about the season or his contract, Chara does want to continue to play beyond this season. At 43, he will have to think beyond his playing days at some point. When asked if he would want to become a coach or stay involved in the game, he didn’t rule it out.
Zdeno Chara on potentially staying in hockey after his career is over:
“I don’t know what the future will bring. Possibly I could be involved. I spend the majority of my life around hockey. Definitely there’s a lot I can offer.”
— Evan Marinofsky (@emarinofsky) May 12, 2020