The Boston Bruins did offer a new contract to longtime captain Zdeno Chara, but made no promises he would have the same role we've seen the veteran defenseman fill for over a decade.
Chara ultimately agreed to sign a one-year, $795,000 contract with the Washington Capitals that was announced Wednesday.
"I want to make sure it’s abundantly clear that we had multiple, multiple discussions with Zdeno and (Chara's agent) Matt Keator. Very appreciative of all the dialogue and both sides being honest in terms of where they were," Bruins general manager Don Sweeney said on a Zoom call Thursday.
"We had certainly offered a contract to Zdeno months ago and he indicated he wanted time to continue to work through, again, where he felt where he was at. Where the league was at and the return to play protocols and what the role we were describing and hoping to integrate him into with our hockey club as we saw it and what our internal plans and discussions were moving forward."
The Bruins are committed to seeing what the team's younger defensemen are able to do with an increased role at the NHL level. Chara admitted in his farewell Instagram post Wednesday that the Bruins informed him of that direction.
Sweeney made no promises to Chara about what his role would be if the 43-year-old veteran did return for the 2020-21 season.
"Make no mistake about it, that did include looking to integrate some of the younger players that have had an opportunity to develop in our system and us trying to see whether they were capable of handling minutes and situations that they had not been exposed to," Sweeney added.
"We describe it as an integrated role and just didn’t make a categorical promise that he would have the exact same role that he had had in certainly his 14 – a historic career with the Boston Bruins. I was very sad. It’s un-rewarding in the aspect of the job to see a player like that choose to leave."
The Bruins will be seeing plenty of Chara this season. The B's and Capitals are scheduled to play eight times in the regular season, with the first game in Boston scheduled for March 3.