Cam Neely, Jeremy Jacobs impressed by Zdeno Chara’s feat of courage

Matt Kalman
June 18, 2019 - 5:11 pm

In the 33 years since he was acquired by the Bruins in a trade with Vancouver, team president Cam Neely has been the perfect personification of toughness.

Even he was amazed by captain Zdeno Chara’s threshold for pain in the Stanley Cup Final. Chara suffered several fractures to his jaw when a shot went off his stick and into his face in the second period of Game 4.

Chara didn’t miss a game the rest of the series, which the Bruins lost in seven games to the St. Louis Blues.

“I mean I went and saw him Wednesday morning at the hospital [the day after Game 4>. He had just finished a four-hour surgery and he was dressed and ready to get out of the hospital,” Neely said Tuesday. “And for him to play the next night, it’s just amazing to me. It just shows what type of person and character and will that he has. So I don’t know how many athletes, in any sport, would do that. … To have our younger players witness something like that can only be helpful.”

Owner Jeremy Jacobs was equally floored by what the 42-year-old Chara was willing to do to benefit the Bruins.

“He’s extremely strong, but more so he shows the kind of character [we want>, his character’s really great, I think. That came out more and more. And that was … I think that was important to the team at large. He really extended himself well beyond what maybe he should’ve you know,” Jacobs told WEEI.com.

Even before his display of enormous courage in the Final, Chara had earned his spot in the upper echelon of the Bruins’ all-time stars and Boston’s all-time icons. He’ll enter the 2019-20 season on his second straight one-year contract, an arrangement that makes sure he gets properly compensated but also allows general manager Don Sweeney flexibility within the NHL salary cap. Chara’s contract for the upcoming season calls for a $2 million base with $1.75 million in achievable performance bonuses.

Unlike Bobby Orr and Ray Bourque before him, Chara wasn’t a Bruins draft pick or prospect. He didn’t come to Boston until July 1, 2006, when he signed as an unrestricted free agent from Ottawa. But also different from Orr and Bourque, Chara has a chance to finish his career with the Bruins, a desire he has expressed several times. The owner is in agreement with that plan as well.

“I think it’s really important to both of us. I don’t think it’s a one-way street, it’s a two-way street,” Jacobs said. “I think he sees himself finishing here and we see him the same way. And as long as he can play effectively and we think he can play and he thinks he can play, he will.”

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