BOSTON -- Although the Boston Bruins' run to Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final made for an abbreviated offseason, Zdeno Chara's summer mostly was uneventful.
The 36-year-old defenseman said he stuck to his same offseason workout regimen, despite rehabilitating a hip-pointer injury. He still refuses to speak about the injury or admit it hindered his performance in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Chara also mixed in plenty of family time and a brief vacation in Florida. However, even when relaxing Chara couldn't escape a little modern-day controversy. As a devoted friend to and Slovakian Olympic teammate of Chicago Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa, Chara agreed to attend his countryman's Cup championship celebration party.
No one should think that Chara completely enjoyed that experience.
"Well, you know, it was [tough]. I'm not going to lie. It wasn't easy," Chara told NHL.com after practice Friday at TD Garden. "But out of the respect of the friendship, and neighbors, I mean he's my neighbor, I'm not going to say no because obviously it wouldn't be the right thing to do. We fought for it and they ended up winning and we came, we walked in, he greeted us and my wife said, 'You know, it was the right thing to do.'"
There might not have been much of a ruckus caused by Chara's appearance had he not had his picture taken with Hossa and the Cup. In 2013, a picture like that never can stay private. It became instant Internet fodder for those who wanted to believe that the Bruins' longtime captain, and winner of the Cup in 2011, wasn't taking the loss hard enough.
"But then obviously the picture, it ended up on the Internet and everybody thought I was celebrating with him. But no," said Chara, who noted that Hossa attended the defenseman's party in 2011 and that the handful of Slovakians of a certain generation all attend each other's festivities.
"We came, we watched the program and after the program we went home and basically went on. I think you have to realize that it was hard to go to because obviously we were so close. But at the same time, we were fighting for that only on the ice and off the ice we are friends. And out of that human perspective you have to come and show your respect and show up."
Chara and Hossa figure to remain good friends, and they should be reunited in Sochi this winter. And next June you better believe that if Chara or Hossa doesn't win the Cup, they'll celebrate with any friend who triumphs.