BOSTON — Now we really know the power of a Stanley Cup championship.
Even noted teetotaler Zdeno Chara has been captured numerous times, including in the aftermath of the Bruins’ Game 7 win at Vancouver, partaking in some adult beverages both from the Cup and other bottles/cans.
“It’s so important that you do that because I’m also human and it’s a time that you let it go and celebrate,” explained Chara. “That was just … we were so happy. I think that that celebration right afterwards in the locker room, it’s a pure one. There’s no hiding or hesitating or worrying about anything else, who’s around to see this or that. You just didn’t care. You basically let everything out, all that energy that you kept in for that long and the relief and the excitement and being happy and everything that just came out. And obviously it was one of the best celebrations and get together we had with family, fans and everybody.”
Ever since he was the first Bruins player to hoist the Cup above his head, Chara has been leading the celebration all over New England and now the U.S. (the Cup is in Las Vegas for Wednesday’s NHL Awards show). The celebration is just a continuation of his growth as an admired leader, which is a process that’s been ongoing since he took over as captain of the Bruins in 2006.
“I think that in any position, not just as a captain, you grow as you learn to be in that position. I think I’m just trying to obviously be there for my team, no matter what, for my guys,” he said. “Whatever it is, I always try to think about not myself but more as what it’s going to do to the team or 25 guys. In a way, the same thing [as the coaches], I always have to think a little bit ahead and if this decision is going to be made or not.
“I’m very privileged to have guys around me who I can always lean onto and ask their opinions. It’s so important that you make the decision as a group instead of individually. Obviously having Mark Recchi here, Patrice [Bergeron], Andrew Ference, Chris Kelly, it’s been really fun and easy to work with these guys. It’s something that I really take a lot of pride in, leading this team. And like I said, when I signed here five years ago, I had a mission and a goal and I’m just so happy that it worked out that way. That I was able to bring this team to the top and win a championship. Everybody’s dreaming about it, and obviously it was my dream. I’m very happy and humbled to be able to say that we are the champions.”
Chara needed his teammates to help him out with more than just leading back in the first-round Montreal series, as he had to miss Game 2 and was not himself for several games after that. What was termed dehydration at the time has since been revealed by Chara as a bacterial infection.
“I was so thankful of the guys, carrying me on for the next few games,” said Chara, who finished the playoffs with 2-7-9 totals and a plus-16 rating. “Even though I played a pretty solid amount of minutes, I tried to obviously stay out of some long shifts and things likes that. Somehow [there’s] some things you can’t control in your life and that happened. You get ill and at that point, it was quite hard to miss Game 2 but there was no way I’d be able to finish the game.”
Other than that illness, Chara said he didn’t play through anything worse than “bumps and bruises” the rest of the postseason. Always the diligent worker, Chara even said that he’s already looking forward to next year’s training camp.
“In a way it’s true. Obviously right now we all know that the time off from the ice and training is very important,” he said. “This season’s been really long. But at the same time I think we are all excited to be thinking about next season and training camp.”
Actually, Zdeno, everyone’s more excited to celebrate what was accomplished this season. And that might require you to take a few more sips of something more potent than a protein shake or energy drink.