Tag: Zdeno Chara

Toronto Maple Leafs v Boston Bruins

Chara wants to play out his contract

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Whether he likes it or not, age comes to mind almost as often as height does with Zdeno Chara these days.

He’s 38 and just suffered through one of those injury-packed seasons that reminded us that he’s, you know, human. Don’t expect the Boston Bruins behemoth to hang up his skates anytime soon, however, as he told the Toronto Sun.

“My contract goes for another three years and I’d like to play until then,” Chara said. “I think we still have a competitive team with some good young players.

“Being out of the playoffs just makes you want to get back there even more.”

Chara did point out the bright side, especially for him: missing the postseason means all those extra weeks/months to heal up. Considering the Bruins’ two Stanley Cup Final runs and other nice playoff pushes, they’re used to accruing some serious mileage. Getting a breather cannot be the worst silver lining imaginable.

While his cap hit remains hefty, one perk for the Bruins is that Chara’s salary may just dwindle at a similar rate that his role may decline. His salary is $7 million next season, yet it goes down to $5 million in 2016-17 and $4 million in 2017-18.

With a no-movement clause, he can also make sure that he stays in Boston if he wants to.

Some might look at Chara’s tough year (not to mention his combination of wear-and-tear with size that implies a sharp decline) and fear the worst, but if anyone can bounce back, it’s the Big Z. The renowned workout warrior is getting extra time to train, after all.


Chara cringes at age talk

(H/T to The Score.)

Quenneville thinks Hossa ‘could be’ the next Jagr or Selanne

2015 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Three

CHICAGO — A couple of weeks ago, I took some heat for writing that Marian Hossa’s age would be a challenge for the Blackhawks in the coming years.

In reality, I meant it as a compliment. Hossa is 36. He can’t play forever, because nobody can. It’s the same argument I’ve made when it comes to Zdeno Chara in Boston.

Some players are so important to their teams that when they get to a certain age, it’s only natural (for me at least) to question how much longer they’ve got as elite players.

Well, last night, Hossa showed that he’s still capable of an elite performance. Even if he did miss an open net, the oldest forward on his team played the most of any forward (23:56). He also finished with two assists, including a perfect pass to set up Brandon Saad on a one-timer for the Blackhawks’ second goal.

So, given how he played, and given what I’d written, I asked coach Joel Quenneville today if he thought Hossa could be the next Jaromir Jagr or Teemu Selanne, the rare forward that can play at a high level into his late 30s, or even into his 40s.

“He could be,” said Quenneville. “He loves the game. He does a nice job of taking care of himself, preparing so he can go into games and be great, do the best he can each and every night.

“He had the puck a lot last night. Had an outstanding chance early. Stayed with it. I thought that line was dangerous at times. He was very effective last night.”

For the record, I stand by my argument. Hossa proved last night that he remains a very good player. However, he also remains human. Among active players, only Jagr (202) has appeared in more playoff games than he has (191).

Hossa fans should take it as a compliment when people wonder how long he’s got left as a great player. It means his importance has been appreciated.

There wasn’t always such an emphasis on shot-blocking

NHL: Blues v Blackhawks Game 3

CHICAGO — The day after it was reported that the NHL’s competition committee had discussed “disallowing certain shot-blocking techniques,” Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville, a former NHL defenseman, was asked how the emphasis on shot-blocking has changed compared to when he was playing.

“I think the game has changed now,” said Quenneville. “There’s so many layers of guys in shooting lanes. There’s one, two and three guys sometimes you got to get the pucks through. I just think a lot of teams emphasize making sure shots don’t get through, and protecting the middle of the ice as well.”

It wasn’t always that way. The rise of shot-blocking has been linked to the NHL’s crackdown on obstruction that followed the 2004-05 lockout.

“You [keep] forwards from going to the net, and you’re called for interference,” Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara told Sports Illustrated in 2007. “And once the forwards get there, they’re basically screening your goalie. So now all that’s left for you is throwing yourself in front of shots.”

PHT reached out to former NHL forward Ray Ferraro to ask what it was like when he was in the league, from the mid-1980s until 2002.

“Shot-blocking was never really demanded from us. It wasn’t seen as a big deal,” Ferraro texted. “The focus was on keeping the lane clear for goalies to see the shot.”

More goals and fewer injuries are two reasons to try and think up ways to reduce the number of shots being blocked.

However, just because the topic was discussed by the competition committee doesn’t mean anything will be done about it, or should be done about it. After all, there’s something to be said for a player’s willingness to sacrifice his body for the good of the team.

“Some guys have more of an anticipation towards that, more willingness to do it,” said Quenneville. “There’s a bit of an art. There’s a little bit of pain that you gotta deal with as well. We may have one of the best ones in the game in [Niklas Hjalmarsson].”

Rangers defenseman Dan Girardi leads all players in blocked shots during the playoffs, with 65.

On the teams in the Stanley Cup Final, Hjalmarsson leads the Blackhawks with 51, while Victor Hedman has the most on the Lightning, with 39.

Related: Ducks dealing with shot-blocking conundrum

McQuaid camp ‘holding out hope’ to re-sign with Bruins

Boston Bruins v Tampa Bay Lightning

New Bruins GM Don Sweeney has some decisions to make on the blue line.

As of now, the B’s only have four of their defensemen from the past season under contract: Zdeno Chara, Dennis Seidenberg, Torey Krug, and Kevan Miller. They have one big restricted free agent to sign in Dougie Hamilton, but that’s expected to get done somehow.

One of their unrestricted free agents is Adam McQuaid. The 28-year-old said last month he “can’t picture” moving on from Boston. But that may not be his call.

“We’re holding out hope [to get something done],” McQuaid’s agent, Paul Krepelka, tells CSNNE.com. “He’s a good fit here [in Boston].”

The other UFA on defense is Matt Bartkowski, who just so happened to be the subject of a speculative piece in today’s Vancouver Province. (The Canucks are, of course, led by GM Jim Benning, who knows Bartkowski well from his time in Boston.)

But it’s McQuaid that has the larger history with the B’s. He was a young depth defenseman on the 2011 Stanley Cup champion team, providing size and toughness behind an excellent top four of Chara, Seidenberg, Johnny Boychuk, and Andrew Ference. He played a similar role in 2013, when the B’s lost to Chicago in the final.

McQuaid is the kind of player that would seem to match the Bruins’ plans to get back to their aggressive ways. On the other hand, after being asked to play a larger role this season following the departure of Boychuk, he definitely had his struggles.

It begs the question — if the B’s choose to bring him back, what role do they envision him playing? Because the top four may be too big of an ask.

“I guess time will tell,” McQuaid said in April. “I’ll wait and see if it comes to [hitting free agency], and then obviously you have to go down that avenue.”

Hossa’s age just one of the challenges facing Blackhawks

Marian Hossa, Ryan Kesler

Did you know that Marian Hossa is the second-oldest forward still playing in these playoffs?

It’s true — only Martin St. Louis, 39, is older.

In the playoffs, Hossa, 36, has been the fifth-oldest forward overall. During the regular season, only 17 forwards in the entire league were older than he was.

Why are we bringing this up? Because Hossa only played 14:44 last night in Anaheim, his lowest ice time in these playoffs.

So, is he hurt? Or, is he just tired?  

Yesterday, an article in the Chicago Sun-Times questioned whether all the “marathons” the Blackhawks have played this postseason were taking a toll:

Hossa as much as any Hawk gives it all he’s got. You can see the determination in his game. But the reality is that after 17 seasons in the NHL, he is challenged more than most to maintain his level of impact as the minutes pile up. 

To be sure, Hossa remains a very effective player. He has 11 points in 15 playoff games, and his possession stats are among the best on the Blackhawks. But his age is a factor, whether fans like it or not. It’s the same thing in Boston with Zdeno Chara and Detroit with Pavel Datsyuk.

Hossa may not get the accolades those two do, possibly because so much attention is given to teammates Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith. But he’s been vitally important in the Blackhawks’ two championship runs in the last five years. There aren’t many, if any, wingers who play such a strong two-way game.

Hossa isn’t going anywhere. He still has six seasons left on his front-loaded, 12-year contract — the kind of contract they don’t allow anymore. There could be a cap-recapture issue down the line.

But for the Blackhawks to remain contenders over the next few years, it’ll be up to youngsters like Teuvo Teravainen and Artemi Panarin to step up and offset the decline in Hossa’s play — a decline that happens to even the greatest players as they get older.