SUNRISE, Fla. — His reputation draws well-earned respect across the National Hockey League. And he doesn’t need the money to back it up.
Zdeno Chara made plenty of dough over the course of his 21-year tenure. He certainly doesn’t need the extravagant dollars now.
But the Bruins know that his 6-foot-9 stature still provides a vital presence inside the dressing room. So it came to no surprise when Chara walked into BB&T Center having inked another one-year deal on Saturday. The financials include $2 million in base salary and an extra $1.75 in performance-based incentives.
“Well, I think that we all think that next season is big for our organization,” Chara said. “In having the talks with Don [Sweeney] we wanted to put the team in the best possible position for the upcoming season. So for sure, that was something that we considered the most, and we tried to work around it.”
It’s a win for Chara, who shows no sign of slowing down anytime soon. It’s also a win for the Bruins’ financial future.
Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo and Danton Heinen — among the Bruins’ notables — become RFAs on July 1. The Bruins have a little more than $13 million of projected salary cap space for the 2019-20 season.
McAvoy and Carlo, in particular, earned a great deal of knowledge skating with Chara since their rookie seasons. They’re all thankful for that.
The young aforementioned trio should extend more thanks to their captain when their camps reconvene with Sweeney in contract negotiations. That’s a story for another day, however.
“Ongoing process,” The Bruins’ GM said about the negotiations with his noted RFAs. “You guys will be the first to know.”
Well, we know this for now. Chara’s work ethic is an asset to the Bruins’ organization. It rivals that of another living legend in New England Sports: Tom Brady.
Of course, Brady has the rings to back up his status as New England’s GOAT. His TB12 formula arguably prolonged his career. But one can argue that Chara’s training regimen rivals that of Brady.
His humble, workman-like approach especially resonates with McAvoy and Carlo who have firsthand experience after being paired with the 42-year-old for a good chunk of their first few seasons in Boston.
“I’m very fortunate to have played with him. Every day the different things that you see and notice reminds you why he’s had the career he’s had,” McAvoy said about Chara. “You don’t know what hard work is until you see him work — whether it’s on the ice or off the ice. Whatever it may be, it’s always in the best interest of his career, and you can really learn a lot from a guy like that.”
“I feel like regardless of how long he plays — and certainly I hope it’s a while for him — he’ll always be a resource for all of us young guys that have gotten the pleasure to play with him,” Carlo added.
They’ll have the honor of having Chara back for another season — and beyond. The ageless wonder is showing no sign of hanging up the skates anytime soon.
And the Bruins are in a good spot with Chara going forward. He’s signed one-year contract extensions for the last two seasons, and that trend will only continue until he calls it a career.
Thus providing a win-win for all parties.
“Zdeno’s earned the opportunity to continue to play,” Sweeney said about Chara, who still averages upwards of 20 minutes time on ice per night.
“It’s always been our understanding that we’ll continue to talk to him and let him decide ultimately where his well being is…mentally, physically, the whole bit. And we spent a lot of time last year [during negotiations] in a very unique situation where Zdeno wanted to learn a little bit more about the landscape moving forward in going year by year and how imperative it was for us as an organization. So good for him to have an understanding of it. It worked out great [for all of us].”
Tim Rosenthal serves as the Managing Editor of Bruins Daily. He started contributing videos to the site in 2010 before fully coming on board during the Bruins' Stanley Cup run in 2011. His bylines over the last decade have been featured on Boston.com, FoxSports.com, College Hockey News, Patch and Inside Hockey. You can follow Tim on Twitter @_TimRosenthal.
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