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Chara: "We stick up for each other."

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins
Boston, MA -- Zdeno Chara, Boston's strong man on the back line, doesn't drop his gloves all that much. More often he can be seen delivering heavy hits, poke checks and award-winning 100-miles per hour slap shots.

But when he does drop the gloves, as he did twice last weekend, it is always memorable.

Saturday's fight was against Atlanta's giant manchild Boris Valabik; a defenseman who was displaying severe ill-will towards Phil Kessel.

As expected, Chara took care of the problem by pounding and outlasting the Thrashers big blueliner.

"(Valabik) was playing hard," said Chara postgame. "He is doing his job and he was competing.

"I was playing hard and doing my job, and it is just a part of the game."

Much was at stake, young Mr. Kessel's health for one, the fate of the game was another and Chara's reputation as the most formidible physical force in the NHL was a distant third consideration.

But afterward Chara simply said that he was fulfilling his role and nothing else. Valabik, a rookie said to have idolized Chara as he made his way to the NHL, might disagree.

"For sure, it is the number one thing; to play as a team and stick up for each other as a team and to really support each other when something is happening," he said. "It is the main identity of this team that we stick up for each other.

Chara has no plans to fight more often, however. He'll fight only when he has to probably because of the 17-minutes in penalties he garnered as a result of the NHL's controversial instigator rule.

"It’s not my first priority," he explained. "If there is time and space in the game, then you have to choose at that specific time.

"I thought it was necessary."

So did Bruins bench boss Claude Julien.

"You don’t like to see is to lose one of your best defensemen, your captain, for seventeen minutes," he said. "But I think at that stage, at that moment, what was going on, it was the right thing to do. (Valabik) was going after our best goal scorer and took some privileges on him and took some cheap shots.

"(There’s) definitely a size difference (between Valabik and Kessel) and Zdeno decided that he was going to step in for his teammate. "I thought it was the right thing to do and we had no issues (with his decision). And playing without him for 17-minutes to me, was for the right reasons," said Julien.

Chara echoed his coach.

"(Valabik) is a big guy and he plays physical and competes," said the B's defenseman. "Obviously, he was doing his job trying to play hard against Phil. "I didn’t let him do that and I did what was necessary."

From that point forward, the game was colored Black & Gold and, while in the box, Chara got to "watch the game" from the "best seat in the house."

"It’s great we got a little momentum out of it," he said. "We scored on the power play and got a two goal lead.

"It is not like you can relax, but you are a little more comfortable."

Kessel, like Chara, a man of few words, actually had quite a bit to say about his captain.

"I thank Zee for coming in," said Kessel. "He’s a team guy and that guy was pretty big.

"I think it says a lot about him, coming to my defense like that. He’s a great captain and a great guy and it shows what kind of a team guy he is.

"I think he would do it for anyone on the team and I think any guy would do t for any other on the team," he said.

The Bruins have Monday off and will return to practice on Tuesday.
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