Now that we know there will indeed be a 2021 season of 56 games and all parties have agreed to terms, we have to see how everything else shakes out. For the Bruins, that means whether or not Zdeno Chara will return, whether or not fans can be attendance at some point in the season, and whether or not top line wingers Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak will return from rehabbing surgeries sooner rather than later.
As for the return of Chara, Bruins President Cam Neely admitted that they still need to work that out with him and that Chara might need to see how the game scheduling will work out. Certainly playing roughly 2/3 of the regular schedule in a 4-month timeframe might not be optimal for a 43, soon to be 44 year old. Chara wants another championship and his time is running out.
Whether or not Chara chooses to sign, Neely is looking forward to seeing if the next group of younger left-shot defensemen are ready to make the big roster, namely Jeremy Lauzon, Jakub Zboril, Urho Vaakanainen. For Zboril and Lauzon, it’s important to see exactly what the Bruins have some 5 years since their draft year; fellow 2015 defensive draft pick Brandon Carlo has been on the roster for years now. With Lauzon, they Bruins know they have at least a bottom pairing guy on the left but can Zboril replace either Chara or Krug? It remains to be seen.
As for fan attendance at TD Garden, Neely stated that he expects some amount of attendance sometime this season and that they are preparing for all sorts of options between “no”, “limited”, and “full” attendance. They’re taking precautions to make sure people practice social distancing when entering the arena (I’ll believe it when I see it) and now concessions will be handled through online ordering. So, good luck if you don’t have a smartphone or credit/debit card.
As for Marshy and Pasta, they are both on the mend. Marchand has been on the ice a few times since his groin surgery in September. Neely didn’t have a timetable for his return but is hopeful that this final month of the projected 4-month recovery time will be all the time he needs to be ready to play. Pasta has been rehabbing away from Boston until recently after recovering from arthroscopic and labrum repair of his right shoulder. He’s due to be out through February.
Players are able to take part in voluntary workouts at Warrior Arena and Neely has noted that players are coming back to town gradually for that.