Chara: Bruins planned to use me in 'reserve' role
Zdeno Chara appreciates the Boston Bruins' honesty about their plans for the coming season, plans that included the veteran defenseman contributing in a diminished capacity.
"I respect the way it was communicated to me ... we had a number of conversations," the Washington Capitals blue-liner said. "Early on, it was probably a little bit unknown what I'd been told about what (my) role would be.
"But as the conversations progressed, towards the end, it was very clear to me that I would not be in the starting lineup for the season, or starting some games, or playing some back-to-back games. I would be more (of) a reserve kind of a type of player."
Chara wasn't offended by the Bruins' plans, but he decided to pursue other opportunities.
"I had no issue with that," he said. "A lot of credit to (general manager) Don Sweeney (for) how he handled the situation, but I felt that it would be a better fit for me if I kind of (found) a better role with (another) team, kind of step aside, and let the Boston Bruins go in the direction they chose to."
A few hours before Chara spoke Thursday, Sweeney explained how the Bruins pitched the gargantuan rearguard's potential fit.
"We described it as an integrated role and just didn't make a categorical promise that he would have the exact same role he'd had certainly in his historic career with the Boston Bruins," he said. "It's very sad. It's (an) unrewarding aspect of the job to see a player like that choose to leave."
Chara inked a one-year, $795,000 contract with the Capitals on Wednesday. The 43-year-old played the last 14 seasons for the Bruins, all as the team's captain.
Sweeney also said Thursday that the Bruins made a contract offer to Chara "months ago," at which point the towering blue-liner replied that he needed time to make a decision.
The GM added that he expects Boston to name a captain for this season and that the choice is "obvious." Chara went one step further a few hours later.
Chara ranks sixth in Bruins franchise history in games played. He was instrumental in Boston maintaining its status as a perennial contender during his tenure, helping the club win the Stanley Cup in 2011 and reach the finals in 2013 and 2019.