It's the end of an era on Causeway Street.
Ever since 2006, Zdeno Chara has been a mainstay on the Bruins blue line, leading the B's to 11 playoff appearances, three trips to the Stanley Cup Final, and helping Boston win its first championship in almost 40 years.
Even though Chara was a free agent with an uncertain future at age 43, it was pretty clear that he wanted to come back to Boston for a 15th season. After the B's were bounced from the Stanley Cup Playoffs in late August, he stated his desire to return:
"I want to stay in Boston, I want to be a Boston Bruin and I want to continue to lead by example and share my experiences and my game skills with the younger players and my teammates. That hasn’t changed. I’m committed, so we’ll see what’s going to happen next.”
So why didn't it work out this offseason? Chara's agent Matt Keator explained the divorce to the Boston Globe's Matt Porter.
Chara's agent, Matt Keator:
"It was a long and hard process for him, managing his family, legacy, what his role would be on the team. The Bruins were great. They were communicative throughout. Don Sweeney handled it very well. He was clear and concise. There was no gray area."
— Matt Porter (@mattyports) December 30, 2020
While Chara openly discussed his desire to return to the Bruins, Boston's brass was more noncommittal this offseason, whether it was Don Sweeney or Cam Neely. When no quick return materialized, almost two-thirds of the league pounced, with 20 teams reportedly checking in on the future Hall of Famer.
With the Capitals inking Chara for under $800,000, it's clear that money wasn't Chara's motivation in heading to D.C. for his 23rd season. Instead, his role and playing time had to play a huge factor, with the B's skewing younger on defense after moving on from Torey Krug and now Chara.
And judging by the immediate snapshot on social media, it's clear that Bruins fans might not agree with Keator's assessment that Sweeney "handled it very well."