DALLAS – Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara spoke after the victory over Dallas about carrying the flag for Slovakia at the Opening Ceremonies of the Winter Olympics next month in Sochi, Russia, and was understandably gracious about the Bruins cooperation with his wishes.
Chara said he went to Bruins ownership and management to get permission about potentially leaving the team early, and possibly missing the last two games against St. Louis and Ottawa prior to the Olympic break.
The B’s organization’s approval of the high honor from his home country seemed to touch the Bruins captain greatly. For an athlete like Chara taking part in his third – and likely final as a player turning 37 in March – Olympic games playing for his home country of Slovakia, it was a now or never kind of scenario for a Bruins captain who has brought plenty to the B’s organization the past eight years.
“I’d like to thank the Boston Bruins organization for making this happen, especially Mr. Jeremy Jacobs and Charlie Jacobs and obviously all of my teammates and the whole organization,” said Chara. “They really made this possible. I’d also, for sure, like to thank the Slovakian Hockey Federation for giving me this honor.
“It’s something that’s a once in a lifetime experience. I’m very humbled and honored to do that.”
Did the Bruins captain have to mull over the pros and cons at all given that he might miss the two regular season games against the Blues and Senators?
“I think I did the right thing in first asking the Boston Bruins organization if they were OK with that,” said Chara. “After I got the okay, it was kind of an easy process from there. It’s something I wouldn’t even think about doing selfishly with this honor if I didn’t ask for permission.
“I’m very thankful and it’s a huge, huge honor. For sure I’m going to miss the last game [against Ottawa], but we’re working on the possibility of just missing that last game. We’ll have to see how it goes.”
The Bruins might be better off in the long run freeing Chara up for the last two games, and giving the defensive workhorse a little midseason break given the considerable Olympic travel and compacted NHL schedule that await the 6-foot-9 forward in the next few months. It will likely be the last chance Chara gets for a decent breather until the Bruins have completed their playoff run this spring. The B's play 17 games in March.