After 14 seasons with the team, Zdeno Chara is no longer a member of the Boston Bruins, instead signing with the Washington Capitals on a one year contract.
Legendary Boston Bruins defenseman and captain Zdeno Chara will not be returning to the team after a long offseason of uncertainty, instead signing with the Washington Capitals.
The Capitals signed the future Hall of Fame defenseman to a one-year contract worth $795,000, the team announced in a release on Wednesday. The cap space for Chara was likely opened after it was announced goaltender Henrik Lundqvist would be missing the season due to a heart condition.
Shortly before the signing was officially announced, Chara shared a heartfelt goodbye with Bruins fans on Instagram, stating that the Bruins informed him “that they plan to move forward with their many younger and talented players” and that he respects their decision.
The 43-year-old Chara is currently the oldest player in the NHL, and at 6-foot-9 is the tallest player in NHL history. He’s spent the last 14 years of his 22-year career as a member of the Bruins while playing in 1,023 games, winning the Norris trophy in 2009, and hoisting the Stanley Cup in 2011 while making two other trips to the Finals in 2013 and 2019.
It’s hard to imagine a future where No. 33 is not immortalized in the rafters at TD Garden.
With 1,553 career games played, Chara ranks 15th on the NHL’s all-time games played list, behind only Patrick Marleau (1,723) and Joe Thornton (1,636) for active players. Among all NHL defenseman in history, only Chris Chelios (1,651), Scott Stevens (1,635), Larry Murphy (1,615), Raymond Bourque (1,612) and Nicklas Lidstrom (1,564) have played more games than Chara.
Soon-to-be 44 years old, obviously Chara is not what he used to be when was among the top defensemen in the league. His speed and production have understandably taken a big step back, but that’s not to say he can’t be a productive defenseman for the Capitals this season. His physical presence will always be a part of his game, and his defensive play is still holding steady.
Last season in Boston, Chara still averaged over 20 minutes a game. It’s almost certain that there’s a role for him in Washington that will fit.
In terms of off-ice impact, Chara will immediately be a part of the leadership group in Washington after being captain for so long in Boston, and contribute to getting the Capitals back to their 2018 Stanley Cup form as their championship window winds down.
Chara’s departure is an emotional departure for the Bruins organization, but they’ll still see him plenty in the coming months. To make matters even more interesting, the Capitals and Bruins will meet each other eight times this upcoming season, with the first meeting coming Jan. 30 in D.C. Chara’s first return to Boston will take place Mar. 3.