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.

OFFSEASON

Celtics must address needs with free agency on the horizon

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Celtics must address needs with free agency on the horizon

BOSTON -- With more salary cap space than they've ever had along with a slew of clear and well-defined needs, the Celtics are sure to be one of the busier teams when free agency begins on Friday.

And while the Celtics’ needs may be all over the place, there is one thing that head coach Brad Stevens and the rest of the Boston Celtics have made no secret about wanting to come away with this offseason.

“The need for increased versatility,” Stevens said.

Indeed, Stevens envisions the NBA becoming more of a position-less league going forward.

When you look at the Cleveland Cavaliers rallying from a 3-1 deficit to knock off Golden State, of course LeBron James was brilliant as well as Kyrie Irving. 

But one of the more stealth keys to that series that factored into its outcome, was the way Cleveland's 6-foot-9 power forward/center Tristan Thompson was able to hold his own defensively against two-time league MVP guard, 6-3 Stephen Curry.

His play was as clear an example of the value in having players with defensive versatility as you will find.

It also has value on the offensive end of the floor as well. 

That helps explain why LSU’s Ben Simmons was selected with the top overall pick, a player with power forward size (6-10, 240) with point guard-like vision.

And in many ways it speaks to why the Celtics decided to draft Jaylen Brown with the No. 3 pick instead of a playmaker like Providence College’s Kris Dunn or sharpshooters like Oklahoma’s Buddy Hield or Kentucky’s Jamal Murray.

Brown stands 6-7, weighs 223 pounds and has a 7-foot wingspan with elite athleticism and quickness getting to the paint. 

“Very few guys can move like Jaylen, can move at his size and at his length,” Stevens said. “So the defensive versatility is a big piece of that; that should be transferable right away.”

As for free agency, the same mantra – seek out versatile players – will remain in effect for Boston.

Of course Kevin Durant is at the top of the Celtics’ free agent wish list after Durant reportedly included Boston on the list of teams he will meet with in New York shortly after free agency begins.

In addition to the Celtics and his current team Oklahoma City, Durant is also planning to talk with officials from the following teams: Golden State, the Los Angeles Clippers, Miami and San Antonio.

Along with Durant, the Celtics are also expected to express interest in Atlanta’s Al Horford; New Orleans’ Ryan Anderson; and possibly Golden State’s Harrison Barnes who will be a restricted free agent which often serves as a deterrent for potential suitors. However, Barnes could wind up being an unrestricted free agent if the Warriors feel as though they will land Durant.

Regardless of which free agents wind up in Boston, you can count on versatility being one of their strengths.

“I only look at the game in four spots; ball-handlers, wings, guys that can play that three-swing spot (some power forward as well as small forward) and bigs,” Stevens said. “The more versatile, the more position-less, the better. That overall provides more opportunities than it does not. That’s a positive when you talk about guys that can do different things at different positions.”