The 40-year-old defenceman’s seven-year, $45.5-million contract will be up at the end of 2017-18, but he told CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty that he “definitely” wants to stay put in Boston and keep playing beyond this season — the 20th of his career.
“I love the game. I love everything about it. I love the sacrifice and I love the training,” he said on Tuesday. “At my age I look at what I can still do and just really enjoy it. I just want to keep improving and play for as long as I can.”
Zdeno’s campaign to defy Father Time continued last season as he registered 10 goals and 19 assists in 75 games while leading the team in average time on ice (23:20).
“I always felt I can play for a long time if I’m in good shape and if I can be healthy,” he said. “So that’s what I wish for, that I can be healthy and play a long time while still being really effective and consistent.”
He was both of those things this past spring, averaging an incredible 28:46 over six playoff games. Rookie Charlie McAvoy, who has been taking notes from his six-foot-nine, 250-pound captain, ranked second on the team with an average ice time of 26:12 during the post-season.
“I definitely want to play beyond this season,” said Chara. “It’s really hard to put a number on it. Some people do and some people don’t.
“I love this game too much,” he added. “I have made no secrets about it. I want to stay here [with the Bruins] and continue to play.”
With a steady stream of young talent arriving in Boston’s defensive zone, including Charlie McAvoy, Jakub Zboril, Ryan Lindgren and top-pairing partner Brandon Carlo, there is perhaps no better teacher than Chara, whose NHL career has spanned 19 seasons and also includes four-year stints with both the New York Islanders and Ottawa Senators.
“I think it works both ways. I think often times people only see one side of the pair, but honestly I enjoy being around the young guys,” said Chara, who has been playing pro hockey for as long as McAvoy has been alive. “I look forward to coming to the rink every day and playing with them.
“It’s a little bit of a teaching process and a little bit of friendship, and you’ve just got to have respect for each other no matter how many games each player has played [in the NHL],” he added. “Whether it’s on or off the ice, the key is communicating and talking things out for when you get on the ice.”