Zdeno Chara isn’t ready to hang up his skates, even at age 43.
Speaking on Thursday, the Boston Bruins captain explained that when he said he would be “open-minded” about his future he didn’t mean he was undecided about continuing to play.
“Obviously to be asked about my future just a few minutes after the loss [to Tampa], and the way we battled and how well we played in that game, I was still so sad about the outcome, and my emotions were kind of even more being expressed at that time,” Chara said. “I think I addressed that before we left for Toronto, that I feel strong physically.
“I’m positive and I believe that I can still play this game and contribute to the team. I want to stay in Boston. I want to be a Boston Bruin. 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.”
Chara added that he’s eager to discuss coming back for a 15th season in Boston.
“The sooner the better, and see what the future holds,” he said.
Another off-season question facing the Bruins is the future of Torey Krug, who can become an unrestricted free agent. With the salary cap ceiling staying at $81.5M, GM Don Sweeney will have to get creative. The Bruins currently have almost $66M committed for 2020-21 with new Krug, Chara, Matt Grzelcyk, Jake DeBrusk among those eligible for extensions.
Krug said contract talks were “few and far between” but he’s willing to listen, as long as any offers include term.
When asked about signing a one-year contract given the Bruins’ salary cap picture, Krug wasn’t a fan.
“Yeah, I’m very opposed to that,” he said. “I’ve bet on myself and I’ve taken shorter term deals for less amount of money for my whole career now. This is my time in terms of my value at its peak. I’m in a position now where I need to make the most of it. I’ve done it long enough now and that’s the situation I’m facing.”
Krug has scored double-digit goals three times since 2013-14 and recorded at least 44 points in each of the last five seasons. He’ll draw lot of attention on the open market as a defenseman who can provide offense at 5-on-5 and on the power play.
Staying is a priority, but Krug wants to capitalize on the opportunity in front of him.
“Whether you play one or two years up to a 10-15-year career, you have one shot to do it all,” he said. “I realize that and it is what it is. There’s an emotional attachment [to Boston] and I’ve made no secret about it. My teammates know it. Everyone knows it. It’s part of the business that stinks, but we’ll see what happens moving forward.”