In a stunner on Wednesday afternoon, Zdeno Chara signed a one-year, $795,000 deal with the Washington Capitals.
“We are extremely pleased to have Zdeno join the Capitals organization,” said Capitals GM Brian MacLellan. “We feel his experience and leadership will strengthen our blueline and our team.”
Originally reported by Ken Campbell, Chara confirmed the move with a tribute video to Boston fans on his Instagram page.
“My family and I have been so fortunate to call the great city of Boston our home for over 14 years,” his caption reads. “Recently, the Boston Bruins have informed me that they plan to move forward with their many younger and talented players and I respect their decision. Unfortunately, my time as the proud captain of the Bruins has come to an end.”
Bruins president Cam Neely hinted Chara might not be in the team’s plans a week ago.
“For me it’s tough to say,” he told the media. “You know we do want to take a look at some of these young left shot D’s that we have in our system to see if they can step up or is it the time for them to step up and see where they’re at in their development. We certainly respect Zdeno and everything he’s done for the organization and what he’s accomplished as a player and what he’s done both on and off the ice here in Boston, so you know it’s really just a matter of what his desire is and how the coaching staff and we feel what our lineup should look like or could look like depending on the development of some of these young guys.”
Chara, 43, has spent the past 14 seasons as the Bruins captain and their top defenseman. He signed with the organization following the 2006-07 season as a free agent out of Ottawa.
Since then, Chara helped lead the Bruins to a Stanley Cup championship in 2011 and two more appearances in 2013 and 2019.
The oldest active player in the NHL, Chara finished his career with the Bruins with 14 points in 68 games last season. He played over 21 minutes per game, and though that number was decreasing, served an important role on the penalty kill and in the top four overall.
In September, he expressed his desire to remain a member of the Bruins organization.
“I’m committed to Boston Bruins. I’m committed to Boston fans and the city of Boston,” Chara said to the media. “I’m excited about the future of this team.”
What now for Boston?
Already without Torey Krug, who signed with the Blues this offseason, the Bruins defensive corps has plenty of questions. Chara played with Charlie McAvoy the past two seasons, but was expected to take a smaller role going forward.
The B’s have several young left-handed defensemen like Jeremy Lauzon, Jakob Zboril, and Urho Vaakanainen expected to take on more prominent roles, and they re-signed right handed veteran Kevan Miller, who has missed over a year of playing time with various injuries.