After the Ottawa Senators made the ugly (especially in hindsight) decision to give Wade Redden a big raise and let Zdeno Chara walk, he ended up signing a Chara-sized five-year, $37.5 million contract with the Boston Bruins. The Bruins were a team looking for a new identity in the post-Joe Thornton era, so they decided to acquire another player who was big for his position – in Chara’s case, any position – yet who carried a perception of playoff troubles.
Much like any other big-money free agent, Chara made proclamations that he wanted to bring a Cup to Boston. The big sports city completed the journey to “truly spoiled” status in that time, as the Boston Red Sox (2007) and Boston Celtics (2008) added championship banners while the New England Patriots came one Super Bowl loss short of a perfect season in 2007.
Yet the Bruins and Chara were left without a Stanley Cup victory since 1972 and without a Cup finals appearance since 1990. It either seemed ridiculous or generic when Chara claimed that he wanted to win a championship in Boston five years ago, but Steve Buckley of the Boston Herald believes that there was something different about Chara’s message and ultimately how he delivered it.
Yet it was somehow different with Chara. For when he spoke about winning a championship, the words seemed to be coming from deep in the belly, delivered with feeling, with passion, with forethought, as opposed to sounding as though he were rehearsing his lines from the school play.
He didn’t pull a Nikita Khrushchev and bang his shoe (or skate) on the table to get our attention. He didn’t channel his inner Curt Schilling [stats] and proclaim he had come to town to get rid of the ghosts, goblins and curses left over from previous failed campaigns. He didn’t ladle out campaign stump speeches about a chicken in every pot, a rendezvous with destiny and that it’s time for change.
Instead, it was a calm, poised, rational Zdeno Chara who, rather than promising a Stanley Cup celebration, outlined a plan on how to get there.
“I’m not afraid of challenge,” Chara said that day. “I’m willing to lead by my example of hard work and dedication, discipline and drive. I want to bring this team on the winning track. I want us to be competitive for a Cup, and hopefully be champions.”