Zdeno Chara will make his long-awaited return to TD Garden tonight for the first time since signing with the Capitals as an unrestricted free agent in late December.
Chara singular played in over 1,000 games for Boston. The city was his home for 14 out of his 24 total seasons in the NHL. While a Bruin, Chara won the Mark Messier Leadership Award, the James Norris Memorial Trophy, but most memorably he brought the Stanley Cup to Boston in 2011.
Although there won’t be fans in the arena to give Chara a standing ovation, he still feels their support.
“I think from day one in 2006 when I signed with the Boston Bruins, I felt really connected with Boston fans and the city of Boston,” Chara said. “I developed so many great friendships and connections. We went through so many ups and downs together. We always felt their energy and support of being with us and behind us in those times. The best moment that we all can probably share was to bring the Stanley Cup back to Boston in 2011. I can’t tell you how much I appreciated and how lucky and blessed I am to share these celebrations with the fans and everything they’ve done for me and my family, all these communities I’ve been a part of. So I just want to thank them for everything they’ve done for me and my family — for the support and for the love.”
Zdeno Chara is back in Boston and some things don't change. When Chara got to Warrior Arena, he took time to stop and say hello to the crew that takes care of the ice. Classy gesture. pic.twitter.com/2pKgNePNnR
— The Camera Guys (@NBCSCameraGuys) March 2, 2021
Tonight’s game won’t be Chara’s first time facing his old team. The Capitals hosted Chara’s “brothers” on January 30th and February 1st. The series is split 1-1 with five games left between the Caps and Bruins. Both teams are atop the East Division; The Capitals have 28 standings points while the Bruins sit two points behind them.
“It’s going to be exciting to be back,” Chara said. “I don’t think it’s gonna change my emotions with fans or no fans. I don’t think is going to make a difference. I will prepare for the game the same way I always prepare for any game. Try to be ready and do my best.”
Chara was also happy for the return game because he got to spend time with his wife, Tatiana, and his three kids, Elliz, Zack, and Ben, who all remained in Boston after he shocked the hockey world and signed with the Capitals shortly before the season.
“I was able to see my family, my kids,” Chara said.”It was really nice to see them after a long time and be a dad for one day again. I think we try to do our best with the technology we have available these days. You can be in touch daily. It’s different than being with them at home but those are the sacrifices that we talked about before I made that decision. So far it’s been working. it was nice to see them last night.”
Sure, he's looking forward to the game. But he also gets to see his family again (they've remained in Boston this season)
Said Chara of reunion last night: "It was good to be dad"
— Ben Raby (@BenRaby31) March 2, 2021
After considering retirement during the offseason, Chara opted to leave Boston after being uncomfortable with the smaller role they were offering him.
In Washington, Chara is averaging 19:24 of ice time, the third-highest average on the team behind only John Carlson and Alex Ovechkin.
CAPS TODAY: Zdeno Chara is averaging 19:24 of ice time, the third-highest average on the team. Chara is on pace to become the first player since 1997-98 to average at least 19 minutes per game at the age of 43 or older. More info on Chara and Caps Clips at https://t.co/HecIC0ECg1 pic.twitter.com/Q55I2E12LC
— CapitalsPR (@CapitalsPR) March 2, 2021
Headline photo courtesy of @zeechara33
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