The Zdeno Chara era in Boston has come to an end.
Taking to Instagram on Wednesday afternoon, Chara confirmed that he will not don a black and gold sweater for a 15th season — closing the chapter to a memorable tenure in Boston that included three trips to the Stanley Cup Final — including one championship.
Shortly thereafter, the Washington Capitals announced that they signed the 43-year-old defenseman and longtime Bruins captain to a one-year contract worth just $795,000.
Here is Chara's full statement:
"My family and I have been so fortunate to call the great city of Boston our home for over 14 years. 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.
I want to first of all thank the passionate and loyal Bruins fans, who shared the ups and downs of each season over the past 14 years. I’m proud that we were able to return the Stanley Cup to Boston and celebrating with all of you, in Boston, New England, and around the world, was a moment I will never forget. You all have treated my family and me as one of your own and I will always be grateful. Thank you.
I would also like to thank all of the Bruins staff. The trainers, equipment staff, medical staff (all doctors, dentists and therapists), PR and hockey operations, the front office staff, arena staff, security and everyone who helped make the past 14 years so memorable. While there are too many names to mention, please know how sincerely grateful I am to each of you.
I want to thank the Jacobs family for the opportunity to represent the Bruins as their Captain. I am grateful and proud of everything we accomplished.
To all of my teammates throughout the years in Boston, I am so lucky to have a lifetime of memories that I will never forget. From the highest highs to the lowest lows, we were always a team, we were always there for each other and those bonds and friendships will never be forgotten.
My family and I will always cherish the strong friendships and connections we made here. From the beginning in 2006, we have been embraced by this community and made to feel welcome. We will always be grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the community and for the people who always supported me and my family.
As I begin this next chapter, I want the people of Boston to know how proud I was to be a Bruin and how grateful I am for all of the support over the years. “Thank you” does not seem adequate to express my sincere gratitude. I will always be a Bruin. I will always love Boston.
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Clearly, the most telling note here is that Chara's departure was more a byproduct of the Bruins wanting to move forward without the future Hall of Famer — a scenario that seemed more tangible as this offseason dragged along.
“I think it really depends on what he feels he can do (to) help us and we have to feel the same way,” Cam Neely said back on Dec. 21 about Chara's potential role on the 2020-21 Bruins. “How that looks — is that something that he would be comfortable with? How we maybe envision it looking, compared to maybe how he feels it may look? This is a really difficult time for anybody that is going to come off a long break and have a short training camp and jump right into a compressed schedule with a number of back-to-backs and I think 116 days, I believe, to play 56 games. So there’s a lot of factors in play about what makes sense for us and what makes sense for Zdeno.”
Ultimately, it seems as though Boston believed its best move going forward was embracing a youth movement on its blue line, with players like Jeremy Lauzon, Urho Vaakanainen and Jakub Zboril now expected to be thrown into the fire on Boston's D corps.
But to have Chara's tenure end under terms like this — after Boston signed Kevan Miller (!) to a contract with a base salary of $1,250,000 earlier this offseason — is just inexcusable for a Bruins team entering this upcoming campaign with Stanley Cup aspirations.