Before leaving the Boston Bruins and signing a one-year deal with the Washington Capitals, Zdeno Chara garnered some interest from other NHL organizations. Among them were the Montreal Canadiens. But, exactly how much interest did the Canadiens have in the veteran defenseman, and was there ever a chance he might sign there?
According to Renaud Levoie, GM Marc Bergevin and the Montreal Canadiens did kick tires on Zdeno Chara before he chose the Caps. Speculation was that Chara saw positives in the team Bergevin was trying to build and Lavoie reports that Chara had toyed with the idea of joining the squad. Ultimately, it came down to the fact that Montreal was in Canada.
It’s not so much that Chara didn’t want to join a Canadian team. It’s that he didn’t want to do so in a pandemic season where quarantine issues would directly affect his family and the ability to see them over the course of the 2020-21 season.
Chara’s family will stay in Boston and the reason he ruled out Montreal was strictly because he wanted to keep his family closer to home. COVID issues and restrictions meant that if he was forced to travel across the border (or they were) playing the season wasn’t likely as attractive an option?
Sportsnet’s Eric Engels also confirmed the connection between the two sides, was told that the Canadiens had some interest, but that things “Didn’t get very far when trying to confirm it.”
Bergevin Admits the Border Will Play an Issue
There are a few things to consider when wondering if Chara will ever join Montreal, or another Canadian team, for that matter. First, how Chara’s season goes will definitely affect whether or not he plays another campaign in the NHL after this one. Second, if the schedule, the divisions and the travel doesn’t get back to normal by 2022, it’s hard to imagine much will change in terms of how Chara views keeping his hockey career going.
This isn’t going to just affect a player like Chara.
As for other trades the Canadiens might be looking at, GM Marc Bergevin said in a media availability on Sunday, that the border will play a factor in deals from this point in the season onward. He cited Jim Rutherford’s comments that he doesn’t know how the Penguins will make an in-season trade with the quarantine restrictions and Bergevin added that it’s already hard to make trades. The added complications around COVID-19 make it even harder.
It’s why the Canadiens stocked up on so many players this season. He’s expecting injuries will play a key role and the teams best equipped to handle them will come out the least damaged.
Bergevin did not comment on or confirm the team’s interest or lack thereof in Chara. Understandable considering it wouldn’t be the best practice to tip someone’s hand and there’s no sense in focusing on something that didn’t happen.
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