Kalman: Chara determined to return to Bruins ‘as strong’ as he can

Matt Kalman
November 22, 2018 - 11:42 am

Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

It says a lot about Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara that when he’s asked on Thanksgiving morning what he’s thankful for he responds “health” even though he’s currently on injured reserve with a left MCL injury.

The 41-year-old captain knows his knee will heal and there are more important things than hockey, thus he got up early and took the time to carry on the Bruins tradition of donating pies for Thanksgiving to local organizations. Chara donated 400 pies and delivered them to five organizations dedicated to helping the homeless and those less fortunate on this holiday.

Chara chatted with administrators and volunteers at the Pine Street Inn, the third of his five stops. He brought excitement and smiles to the people’s faces in addition to his pies.

Before heading out to his next stop, Chara paused to chat with WEEI.com about his plans for his comeback later this season.

“I’ll do what I can to support my team off the ice and work really hard to get back as soon as I can, as strong as I can,” he said.

Chara is scheduled to be re-evaluated in four weeks. That’s the best-case scenario for the Bruins, who are 1-0-2 since losing him after a hit on Colorado’s Carl Soderberg on Nov. 14. Since missing 19 games to a different type of knee injury in 2013, Chara missed just 18 games the past three seasons.

For someone who prides himself on being the ultimate physical specimen (and he’s proven to be just that for more than 1,400 NHL regular-season and postseason games), a mix of frustration and disappointment sets in when something like this happens. Chara’s experience has also brought him wisdom and he knows a little patience will go a long way toward him returning to the lineup without any setbacks and with him in the form that has made him the Bruins’ No. 1 defenseman for more than a decade.

“It’s something that you never plan or wish for. But they do happen ... probably the least expected time and place ... that’s what kind of gets you,” Chara said. “You’re always working on preventing injuries, that’s the No. 1 thing. You do all the stretching or all the agility stuff or things that kind of help you to stay healthy and then it’s just one kind of a tweak or hit or blocked shot and there you go, you have it. So that’s what’s kind of frustrating, that a lot of times you do what you can do to the maximum effort and it still happens.

“It doesn’t matter what age, they just come. And you can be really injury-free for 10 seasons and then all of a sudden you have three, four in a row. So that’s sports, that’s hockey, we expect that, and we move on. It’s just frustrating.”

Matt Kalman/WEEI.com

Chara has been impressed by how his teammates have been “battling” without him, a handful of other defenseman and center Patrice Bergeron the past few games. Watching them compete as hard as they have has added fuel to his desire to get back. A thought has never been given to not making this comeback, to not being there when the Bruins for the stretch run. More than 20 years since his NHL debut, he still loves the game too much to let an injury prevent him continuing his career.

On Thanksgiving, though, he had other things to distract him from his injury and his absence from the lineup. His softer, personal side showed as he delivered the pies, chatted about hockey and life, and posed for pictures, with members of the community. And then he was looking forward to a relaxing day with his wife and three kids.

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