Zdeno Chara realized that after a few weeks in the NHL, he and his Boston Bruins teammates, normally a close-knit group, hadn’t really communicated much. So he decided to change that.
“It was quite difficult at first,” Chara said Tuesday in a town hall meeting with Bruins season ticket holders. “After we were postponed, I think everyone was in an unknown waters situation. Were we listening to the news? We were waiting to see what we could do as a team, as individuals? Would we be able to stay in Boston? Can we leave?
“And after four or five weeks, I realized that we hadn’t really talked much. We exchanged a few text messages as a group, but nothing from that point on. So the last two, three weeks we have been doing regular Zoom calls and trying to see each other, talk to each other, stay connected and keep up to date, so it’s been a lot of fun. “
The Bruins Zoom’s first call was made on April 28. Organized by Chara team leaders and Patrice bergeron, it was just another example of how Chara made sure to reach his teammates. It is something he has done on an individual level for a while, because he is a team captain and because that is what he thinks is right.
“Throughout each season, he contacted me at some point during the season,” said the defender. Brandon carlo said recently. “He also does a good job of giving you your space.… During the season where you are with him all the time, this is when his true leadership skills come to light, especially during games, during trainings. Very happy to have him as a leader. Keep learning from him. “
But what mattered most to Carlo was to hear Chara as a friend, not just as a teammate.
Carlo is not the only Bruins player in Chara’s 14 seasons with Boston to have that kind of relationship with the 43-year-old defenseman.
“In all honesty, he was one of the most influential people in my professional hockey career, especially in this city,” said the defender. Torey Krug said recently.
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Chara is currently the longest-serving captain in the NHL, having been appointed to the position in 2006-07, a season before Sidney Crosby was named captain of the Pittsburgh Penguins.
How long Chara stays in this role remains an unanswered question. He was not signed beyond this season but maintained that he was not interested in retirement, that there was still no end in sight for his NHL career and that he had not addressed his future during the call Tuesday. He signed a one-year contract on March 28, 2018 for the 2018-19 season and another one-year contract on March 23, 2019 that covered this season.
One thing that changed for Chara during his time in Boston was his approach to leadership as the Bruins changed around him.
“I think at the start of my captain career I tried to put everything on my shoulders and I tried to do a lot of things there and everywhere, then I took a lot of pressure on myself- even, “he said. “It was a difficult time. “
A new direction has arrived. New management staff. The Bruins have had more veterans and now they’re getting younger.
“As time went on, you started to realize that you have to share this leadership and responsibilities and we started to recruit more experienced players and players with Stanley Cup winning experiences,” said Chara. “Older players. So it really helped me become a better captain, to have my teammates with me. some better decisions for the team and try to be yourself and never think of yourself any more than any other player. Try to do your best for the team. “
This is what he is doing now under these most unusual circumstances.
“Being a friend, being a teammate is always very important to me, helping young players adapt to the game as best I can from my experiences,” said Chara. “I love the game. I don’t think it has much to do with the position of captain. It’s just to be there for my teammates, whatever their form, as I can. “