Zdeno Chara won’t have to worry about agitation in reunion with Bruins

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Bijan Todd
·4 min read
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Marchand plans to 'skate away' from former teammate Chara originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

Zdeno Chara spent 14 seasons in Boston. As a Bruin, he cemented himself not only as one of the league’s best D-men but also as one of the hardest guys in the league to take down. Chara stands at 6-foot-9 without skates, making him the tallest player in the NHL. To make matters worse for those who attempt to get under Chara’s skin, he’s also a mighty 250 pounds. Safe to say, he’s not a guy you want to mess with unless you have the proportions of Dikembe Mutombo.

Chara signed with the Washington Capitals this past offseason on a one-year deal at age 43, making Saturday’s matchup with the Bruins the first time he’ll play against his former club since the move. Bruins center Brad Marchand knows of Chara’s physicality better than anybody. The two spent 11 seasons together in Boston, winning a Stanley Cup as teammates in 2011.

Even though Marchand, 32, still loves his former Boston teammate, there are no illusions that you can be friends on the ice if you wear different colors.

“He’s the kind of guy where when he's out there, you're an opponent. He's not going to have any friends out there. He's going to play the game and compete and battle," Marchand said Friday. "I'm not going to poke the bear in any way. The biggest thing I can do is just skate away from him.”

Probably a smart move, Brad.

Marchand and the Capitals have a very long and venomous history as opponents. Most recently, Marchand criticized various Caps players for breaking COVID protocol. The Capitals' Alex Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov, Dmitry Orlov and Ilya Samsonov were caught lounging in a hotel room together on the team’s road trip last week -- a slip-up which resulted in a $100,000 fine and caused all four players to miss at least four games for safety purposes.

“I think the big thing is it’s more of a respect thing. We all want to be able to play, and there’s rules put in place for a reason,” Marchand said of the Capitals’ blunder. “They’re not that hard to follow. We all know the consequences of breaking the rules, and we know what the rules are. So, they brought that on themselves. We’ve all been told very heavily what we’re allowed to do and what we’re not allowed to do, so it is what it is on their side of things.”

Many people in the hockey community saw it as ironic that Marchand was one to play the holier-than-thou card regarding NHL rules and regulations, given that he’s been known to cause a few stirs in his day. Perhaps most notably his proclivity to kiss -- and even lick --opponents during game-time, so as to push their buttons. Such actions got so bad they warranted an email sent by the league to the Bruins, ordering Marchand to stop his odd oral gestures.

Still, it’s safe to say that Marchand will steer clear of Chara in their first reunion with the latter dressed in red.

“If you get within that reach or his grasp, then you're not going anywhere,” Marchand said.

Likewise, Chara knows that at its core, hockey is a business, and players are competitors.

“[Marchand is] a guy who will always go out there and compete for his teams. I think we had many practices against each other and we both compete pretty hard. I don't expect anything else from him or anybody else,” the Slovakian veteran said Friday.

Perhaps Chara summed it up best when he was asked about any antics that might occur in Saturday’s game.

“I don't think it's going to be that much about me playing against the Boston Bruins,” he said. “I think these are two really good teams, playing for two points that are going to be out there tomorrow to grab.”

Watch the Capitals take on the Bruins Saturday, starting with Capitals Pregame Live at 6PM on NBC Sports Washington.

OddsMoney LinePoint SpreadTotal Points
Washington
-134+1.5O 6
New Jersey
+115-1.5U 6