DALLAS, TX - Bruins Captain Zdeno Chara has been given the honor by Slovakia to carry his country's flag for the Olympic Opening Ceremony at the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia.
Chara will be suiting up in his third straight Olympics, and will again be Captain of Team Slovakia as he was in 2010 in Vancouver. While he played in the last three Games, this marks his fourth trip to the Olympics.
The Captain has full support of the Bruins' staff as he heads overseas, even if it means missing a game or two in Black & Gold due to the ceremony taking place on February 7 (the Bruins play on February 6 in St. Louis and then February 8 against Ottawa before the NHL's Olympic break).
"He talked to us about that, came to Peter [Chiarelli] and I and addressed it, and Peter approved it, and certainly with my support," Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien told reporters following the team's pregame skate in Dallas, on Thursday (January 16).
"When you look at what Zee has done for this club, I think it's an easy decision to make, because you're carrying your country's flag at the Olympics."
"And even if he misses a game and maybe two, I think that's the least we can do for a guy who's given us so much since he's been here."
In the Spoked-B, Chara's leadership has always been lauded, and now, that will be showcased on a much grander, international scale.
"We looked at it for the right reasons, and that was for the fact that he gets to carry his country's flag and it's great for him," said Julien.
"We're going to miss him, I think it's pretty obvious you miss a guy like that, but he's been such a committed player for us on and off the ice. He would have taken whatever answer we would have given him, but I think, to me, it was an easy decision and I'm glad Peter made that decision."
Back on January 7, when Olympic rosters were made official, Chara spoke about the emotions that are conjured up when he represents his country.
"It a big honor. It's a big thing. It's the biggest sports event, so anytime you can be part of it is a huge honor, and being selected as Captain is obviously another huge honor," said Chara.
"It's something very unique because you see so many different athletes in one place and you have some chances to talk to them, and be part of other events where you can watch it live - the whole experience is very unique, because everybody's kind of following that specific time of the year with the Olympics."
"It's really just a great privilege and honor."
Along with Chara, four other Bruins are heading to Sochi in February, including Patrice Bergeron (Canada), Loui Eriksson (Sweden), David Krejci (Czech Republic) and Tuukka Rask (Finland). Head Coach Claude Julien and General Manager will also both be there, as part of Team Canada's staff.