Chara never thought about staying in KHL

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Chara never thought about staying in KHL

Zdeno Chara played in the KHL for the last three months, but was never propositioned with the idea of remaining behind to play in the Russian League when the NHL lockout finally ended.

The Bruins captain finished with 25 games under his belt for HC Lev Prague, and showed up in Boston on Wednesday for a skate with his Bs teammates after flying back from Europe on Tuesday.

There was some level of intrigue whether elite Russian superstars like Alex Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin and Pavel Datsyuk would return from the KHL after reportedly being promised millions upon millions to remain in Mother Russia. But Ilya Kovalchuk is still in Russia while planning to play in the KHL All-Star game this week, and there is some question as to whether hell be returning to his job with the New Jersey Devils.

Even if he does return to New Jersey, it appears that participating in the KHL All-Star game will make Kovalchuk late for the start of training camp.

Chara didnt have much to say about the choices other players are making, and said its up to each individual.

Well have to wait and see. There is a lot of speculation about Russian players, said Chara. What can I say? They need to make comments for themselves.

But one thing was certain when it came to Chara and the KHL: He was headed to Boston as soon as the lockout was over. The 6-foot-9 Bruins defenseman made sure there was clear language in his contract allowing him to leave for North America once the new NHL CBA was settled.

We all knew Boston is where we wanted to be and this is where we wanted to play, said Chara, speaking for all 12 Bs players skating overseas. Europe was good in the short term for a lot of us, but this is where we all wanted to be.

It was pretty clear in my contract that once the NHL begins that I was leaving. It depends on how the guys feel and what they wanted to decide to do. I cant really tell you much about it.

Chara finished with 10 points (4 goals, 6 assists) in 25 games for the Bruins and was a plus-4 after some early struggles shaking the rust off, and gave the KHL credit for its standing as one of the best hockey leagues in the world aside from the NHL.

There are some really, really skilled guys over there, said Chara. There are players that are very skilled as far as skating, handling the puck and making plays. I think its less physical, but skating-wise and skill-wise its a little bit different.

There were some very high-tempo games and some other games that was a little more laid back and defensive. There was also a lot of travel through different time zones, so all of those things can affect how you play.

The KHLs high skill level and challenging travel should have a conditioning fanatic like Chara ready to jump into NHL game action after participating in games through the early part of last weekend.

Market for Encarnacion is shrinking, yet Red Sox still don't seem interested

Market for Encarnacion is shrinking, yet Red Sox still don't seem interested

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. -- As the annual winter meetings get underway today, the market for arguably the best free-agent hitter may be -- against all logic -- lessening.

Edwin Encarnacion, who has averaged 39 homers a year over the last five seasons, should be a player in demand.

But in quick succession, the Houston Astros and New York Yankees, two teams thought to be in the market for Encarnacion, opted to go with older hitters who required shorter deals -- Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday.

Further, the Toronto Blue Jays' signing of Steve Pearce to a two-year deal Monday, coupled with their earlier acquisition of Kendrys Morales, closes the door on a potential return to Toronto for Encarnacion.

Seemingly, all of that would position the Red Sox, in search of a DH to replace the retired David Ortiz, to swoop in and land Encarnacion for far less than they could have imagined only weeks ago.

And yet, it appears as though things would have to change considerably for the Red Sox to reach agreement with Encarnacion.

While the first baseman-DH is known to be Ortiz's first choice as his replacement, for now, the economics don't work for the Sox -- even as Enacarnacion's leverage drops.

Encarnacion is expecting a deal of at least four years, with an average annual value around $20 million.

The Red Sox, industry sources indicate, are very much mindful of the luxury tax threshold. The Sox have, however modestly, gone over the threshold in each of the last two seasons, and even with a bump due to last week's new CBA, the Sox are dangerously close to the 2018 limit of $195 million.

Should the Sox go over for a third straight year, their tax would similarly ratchet up.

That, and the fact that Encarnacion would cost the Sox their first-round pick next June -- for this offseason, compensation for players given a qualifying offer comes under the old CBA rules -- represents two huge disincentives.

It's far more likely that the Sox will seek a cheaper option at DH from among a group that includes Pedro Alvarez and Mike Napoli. Neither is in Encarnacion's class, but then again, neither would cost a draft pick in return, or the long-term investment that Encarnacion is said to be seeking.

Rajon Rondo suspended by Bulls for 'heated exchange'

Rajon Rondo suspended by Bulls for 'heated exchange'

Former Celtics and current Bulls point guard Rajon Rondo is up to his old tricks, apparently.

The Bulls have suspended Rondo for Monday’s game due to conduct detrimental to the team, with Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical saying that the suspension is the result of a “heated exchange” the 30-year-old had with a Bulls assistant during or after the team’s 107-82 loss to the Mavericks Saturday. 

Rondo clashing with others is nothing new. He once shattered a television on which the Celtics were showing him game footage to critique him and had to be carried out kicking and screaming by Kevin Garnett. Chris Sheridan reported in 2013 that Doc Rivers had an “intense dislike” for Rondo and that the two almost fought.

After being traded out of Boston, Rondo was suspended for a game by the Mavericks after a shouting match with Rick Carlisle. Last December, he was suspended for calling referee Bill Kennedy a homophobic slur, leading to Kennedy coming out as gay. 

Interestingly enough, there's something of a pattern of Rondo's bigger infractions occuring in games against former teams. The Kennedy incident came in a game against the Celtics, while this recent one was against Dallas. 

This is the first season of a two-year, $28 million Rondo signed with the Bulls in the offseason. He is averaging 8.2 points per game, 7.2 assists per game and 6.7 rebounds a night.