BOSTON - On Wednesday morning, Bruins Interim General Manager Jeff Gorton introduced this summer's most recent addition to the B's roster in defenseman Zdeno Chara
. Gorton made a pitch to Chara the minute the free agent market opened on Saturday, July 1 and ended up signing the most sought after free agent just two hours later.
Chara had offers on the table from 23 other NHL teams. The Boston Bruins came out on top and he agreed to a five-year pact worth $37.5 million.
"I was thrilled with the approach that the Boston Bruins took in trying to sign me," said Chara, the former Ottawa defenseman. "They were very straightforward and after speaking with a few former players, Coach Lewis, and Jeff (Gorton), my decision was very easy to make. I'm very excited to be a part of this organization."
Gorton was adamant in the days leading up to free agency that the Bruins would be extremely aggressive in trying to sign some of the best players available. Many experts around the league thought the most coveted player would be the six-foot, nine-inch Chara.
"Every team has a main plan and a couple backup plans," said Gorton. "Our main plan involved signing Zdeno Chara
and we were able to do that. We are very thankful to have the big man in Boston and look forward to him being in place for our turnaround. I can't say enough about how happy this organization is to be able to bring a player of this caliber to Boston."
Gorton felt that bringing a top tier player to Boston would make an enormous difference on the team. Last season, Chara finished with career highs in goals and points after recording 16-27=43 totals in 71 games played. The massive blueliner also finished with a plus-17 and 135 minutes in penalties.
Coach Dave Lewis is excited to have one of the league's top defenseman in his lineup at the start of the 2006-07 season. Chara brings a strong work ethic to the rink everyday and Lewis believes his passion will rub off on the other players.
"I have people calling me and telling me that I'm a better coach already and I know that for a fact," said the new coach. "I am thrilled about the interest and passion Zdeno has to be part of the new Boston Bruins. He will be the guy I look to for the leadership, character, work habits, discipline, and having the ability to make a difference every time he steps on the ice."
That being said, Chara will have some extreme pressure to play well in Boston under Lewis' guide. No doubt the city of Boston will look to Chara to bring home the most prized trophy in all of sports for the first time since 1972. Chara yearns for the opportunity to raise the Stanley Cup wearing Black ‘n Gold.
"I'm not afraid of a challenge and I want to put this team on the winning track," said the 29-year-old Chara. "Once we can do that, I want to contend for the Cup and be champions.
"We will not be satisfied until we reach that final goal and that's winning the Stanley Cup. You need to have ‘will over skill.' You have to want it and possess that drive."Notes:
The Bruins other top free agent signee, former Atlanta Thrashers centerman Marc Savard
, was originally scheduled to attend the press conference but had problems with immigration papers in Canada and missed his flight.