Chara could have skipped the Cup pic

Chara could have skipped the Cup pic
August 13, 2013, 1:00 pm
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(USA Today Sports Images)

So it seems we finally have a Bruins photo that has knocked the “Tyler Seguin trade party” pics out of the headlines.

A photo op with B’s captain Zdeno Chara smiling and shaking hands with Slovakian buddy Marian Hossa has surfaced that was snapped during Hossa’s recent day with the Stanley Cup.

The shimmering hockey chalice in the background of the photo is the dead giveaway, and it brings up an interesting question: Should Chara have popped into his neighbor’s party given that the Cup’s appearance came courtesy of the 6-foot-9 defenseman and his B’s teammates falling in Game 6 of the Cup Final.

Chara was a minus-6 in the final three B’s losses to the Blackhawks in the Final, and was on the ice for a boatload of goals against as Boston’s defensive stalwarts collapsed against Chicago’s best players. A hip pointer helped add to Chara’s struggles, but it’s clear the Blackhawks really gave the B’s shutdown pair of Chara and Dennis Seidenberg some major problems.

While B’s teammates like Chris Kelly, Shawn Thornton and Tuukka Rask have talked about how much the “loss still stings” and how much it “sucked” less than two months later, Chara had no problems posing with Hossa in front of Lord Stanley’s Cup.

It was a 180 degree turn from the stoic, guarded persona Chara took on during the two month playoff run when he wasn’t interested in giving anything more than one sentence answers, and rightly put all focus into his efforts on the ice.

On the one hand, it’s understandable and admirable Chara can put aside the bitter taste of defeat to toast the Cup with his best friend and best man at his wedding. It’s good sportsmanship and it’s the kind of “no hard feelings” show of brotherhood and respect that has always been there during the unique post-playoffs handshake line.  

“Obviously we are good friends. He's my neighbor. He lives right across the street. But this coming up two weeks, that has to go on the side and we just have to play the roles,” said Hossa during Media Day in Chicago prior to the Cup Final. “I’m going to play my game, he's going to play his game. I'm sure right after we'll be friends again.”

The picture is a clear indicator the two reverted back to being friends immediately after the Cup Final was over.

On the other hand, it’s hard to imagine many of Chara’s Bruins teammates being overjoyed while spying their captain in a “grin and grip” picture posing with Hossa during his Stanley Cup party. A typical hockey competitor still stinging from defeat wouldn’t want to be caught anywhere near the Cup when they came up two wins short of hoisting it themselves.

If memory serves correctly, several Bruins players told me following the summer of 2011 that their NHL player friends skipped their Cup parties because they didn’t feel it would be proper to celebrate something they didn’t’ win.

Can you imagine current B’s assistant general manager Don Sweeney smiling widely for the camera with Ray Bourque during his infamous 2001 parade through Boston after he won it all with the Colorado Avalanche?

Nobody is going to ridiculously demand that Chara be stripped of the “C”, or that he should be called into Cam’s office for a conversation after taking an innocent-looking picture with his best friend. Nobody is challenging Chara’s competitiveness that still clearly burns in his oversized defenseman body.

But world-class athletes like Chara are always aware when pictures are being taken of them at public events such as Hossa’s party, and they should know better in these type situations.

A little circumspection from Chara would have meant making an appearance, supporting his friend, showing good sportsmanship and keeping your distance from the Stanley Cup that eluded you when your defensive game completely did in Games 4, 5 and 6.

It also would have meant that the “Tyler Seguin trade party” pictures would have been the clear Bruins JPG of the summer.