Zdeno Chara and the Boston Bruins have been in frequent communication, but the defenseman’s situation as an unrestricted free agent hasn’t changed, general manager Don Sweeney said Monday.
“Nope. Same status quo there,” Sweeney said. “Waiting to reconnect with (agent) Matt [Keator] and Zdeno. [Chara] continues to evaluate what the landscape of the League looks like, and we’ll see where it goes. We’ve had constant communication, but hopefully we’ve got a target date (for this season) here at some point in time in the near future and we’ll see what the League determines.”
The NHL and the NHL Players’ Association continue to target Jan. 1, 2021, for the start of the season but have not finalized plans or set a date for the opening of training camp.
Chara has made clear that he would like to return to the Bruins, having played for them since signing as a free agent for the 2006-07 season. The 43-year-old has been the captain for all 14 of his seasons with Boston and helped the Bruins win the Stanley Cup in 2011.
“I feel strong physically,” Chara said in September after the Bruins lost to the Tampa Bay Lightning in five games in the best-of-7 Eastern Conference Second Round. “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. … That hasn’t changed. I’m committed. So we’ll see what’s going to happen next.”
Keator has said that Chara is “looking at all options,” according to TSN.
Chara signed a one-year contract in March in both 2018 and 2019 but did not do so this year with the NHL season paused due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus.
It is likely that the usage of Chara, who has been on the team’s top pair for most of his time in Boston, would change next season. Chara’s minutes have been declining and his average time on ice was 21:01 last season, the lowest since his first full season in the NHL in 1998-99 (18:54), He scored 14 points (five goals, nine assists) in 68 games last season and has scored 656 points (205 goals, 451 assists) in 1,553 games over 22 NHL seasons with the New York Islanders, Ottawa Senators and Bruins.