We wrote last week about Zdeno Chara, and how considering the 37-year-old defenseman isn’t getting any younger, the Bruins will need youngsters Dougie Hamilton and Torey Krug to carry on the tradition of great Boston blue-liners if the B’s are to remain Stanley Cup contenders for years to come.
Today, while not outright disagreeing with that notion, Bruins president Cam Neely tried to quell any talk of Chara’s decline.
“Zdeno is still, in my opinion, the best defender in the game,” said Neely, per CSN New England. “I still think we’re in our window. We just have to recognize what we need to do to make our team better, whether it’s guys playing better, or whether we’re adding different players.”
Certainly, Chara is far from finished, and for the record, we never suggested he was. He earned a Norris Trophy nomination this season, and he led the B’s in playoff ice time, averaging 25:20 per game. He’s got a couple of good years left, even if they’re not quite at the level they were a few years ago.
Neely is also right that the Bruins “haven’t fallen off the cliff.” There’s more than enough quality youth on their roster to remain contenders. Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci are only 28; Brad Marchand is 26; Milan Lucic is 25; and Reilly Smith is just 23.
The key will be to keep adding to the mix, and getting that all-important “support from the bottom” that no team can afford to ignore in the NHL. Not ever.