Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

Chara not planning for 900 games with Bruins to be last milestone

Matt Kalman
October 17, 2018 - 1:31 pm

It seems like every other day some national hockey pundit writes or takes to the airwaves to predict that Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara is going to call it quits after this season

Most recently Frank Seravalli of TSN put those words onto our screens, and you don’t have to listen long to conversation about the Bruins before someone that doesn’t follow the team regularly opines that we won’t see Chara back on NHL ice in 2019-20.

Some of this is fueled by Chara being 41 and turning 42 this coming March 18. And part of it is inspired by the one-year contract worth $6.75 million after achievable incentives he signed last March.

Chara told this week he hasn’t really heard or read any of those predictions, so he can’t really react to them.

“I haven’t seen it. To be honest with you, it’s everybody’s personal opinion,” Chara said. “I’m trying to really focus on my game and play my best hockey and compete, and I’ve said before I love this game and I want to keep playing so we’ll see.”

Part of Chara’s focus this week will be playing the Bruins’ games at Calgary and Edmonton on Wednesday and Thursday, respectively. Competing in those two games will run his career total for games played in a Bruins sweater to 900, joining Patrice Bergeron, Wayne Cashman, Don Sweeney, Johnny Bucyk and Ray Bourque as the sixth Bruins player to reach that milestone.

It’s difficult to believe that when Chara joined the Bruins in July 2006 and then embarked a disastrous season under Dave Lewis that 12 years later we’d be talking about 900 games in Boston.

“Obviously the team was going through some phases early on and some changes, but I was kind of glad that we went through it,” Chara said. “It’s not, obviously, always pleasant going through some harder times, but we got through those and then we enjoyed the good ones that we had since 2009, 2013, 2014 that we were right there, and obviously the biggest 2011 and we tried to go back up there.”

Chara has been fortunate that the Bruins have never completely cut the roster down to barebones in order to rebuild. In addition to re-signing him three times, the Bruins have kept the core pieces together despite one change in general manager and one change in coach. Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, David Krejci and Tuukka Rask still remain from the 2011 Stanley Cup championship team. The Bruins missed the Stanley Cup playoffs twice since Chara’s forgettable first year in Boston, but even in those two seasons they were in contention until the last day of the season. Sure there have been some missteps along the way in terms of personnel moves, but they’ve spent to the salary-cap ceiling and haven’t wasted a single season of Chara’s time here.

“I feel lucky, especially in this new era. The moves are made all the time and trades and signings and buyouts and whatever, you name it,” Chara said. “So you can see where frequently players are being moved or not signed or whatever. So, yeah, very lucky and very thankful, like I said.”

The same national pundits that are counting on Chara’s demise spend a lot of their time drooling over Connor McDavid. Perhaps they should ask McDavid if he thinks Chara is on his way out. After scoring an early breakaway goal against the Bruins last week in a Boston 4-1 win against Edmonton, McDavid was kept off the scoresheet by Chara and defense partner Charlie McAvoy the rest of the night. Carrying over their fine play from last season, Chara/McAvoy has been a pair no NHL star wants to face early in the 2018-19 season.

Based on that alone, we should expect to be talking to Chara again a little more than a year from now when he’ll be closing in on 1,000 games with the Bruins. He wouldn’t guarantee that’ll happen, but he also couldn’t deny he likes the idea.

“I would love to and sure, yeah ... let me put it this way, I know it’s there but it’s a priority on my mind,” Chara said. “I’m sure if I take care of all those other things [with my game], it will happen.”

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