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Chara signs one-year, $2 million contract with Bruins

42-year-old defenseman could have become UFA on July 1

by Matt Kalman / NHL.com Correspondent

Zdeno Chara signed a one-year, $2 million contract with the Boston Bruins on Saturday. The contract includes an additional $1.75 million in performance-based incentives.

The 42-year-old defenseman, who signed a one-year, $5 million contract on March 28, 2018, could have become an unrestricted free agent July 1. It will be his 22nd season in the NHL and 14th with the Bruins.

"I enjoy my role," Chara said before the Bruins clinched a Stanley Cup Playoff berth with a 7-3 win at the Florida Panthers. "I really take a lot of pride in being a captain and being one of those mentor guys that we try to help younger guys to lead them in the right direction and make sure they keep getting better and better.

"It's just like I said, a lot of fun to be part of. And I think that with the future, this team is in the right place so I for sure want to be part of it and still contribute with the experiences that I have now."

Chara, who helped Boston win the Stanley Cup in 2011, is the longest-tenured captain in the NHL, since 2006-07. Boston (46-20-9) has reached the playoffs in 10 of his 13 seasons.

Chara has 13 points (five goals, eight assists) in 56 games this season and is averaging 20:59 of ice time, third among Bruins skaters. General manager Don Sweeney hasn't seen any reason why the Bruins wouldn't want to retain Chara's services beyond this season.

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"You go in segments of games, you see where his ice time is. Defensively, he still impacts our hockey club every night. Hard matchups, situational minutes, PK time, you know, really go-to minutes in the course of a hockey game that other teams don't enjoy when he's on the ice," Sweeney said.

"We've given him some mobility alongside of him with Charlie [McAvoy], and certainly the puck play as well. Brandon [Carlo] as well has covered ice for [Chara]. But [Chara] has adapted his own game. He's worked at it an awful lot. I just think the situational minutes that we've been able to manage a little more effectively, and he's bought into that."

Chara won the Norris Trophy as the NHL's top defenseman in 2008-09 and has been selected to play in five NHL All-Star Games. He has been named to the NHL First All-Star Team three times and the Second All-Star Team four times. In 2010-11, Chara won the Mark Messier Leadership Award for exemplary leadership both on and off the ice.

Chara, who is the second-oldest player in the NHL behind Matt Cullen of the Pittsburgh Penguins (42), ranks sixth in Bruins history in games played (949), and is third in points by a defenseman (466) behind Hall of Famers Ray Bourque (1,506) and Bobby Orr (888).

He missed 16 games this season with a tear in his left MCL but is ready for another playoff run.

"I feel good," Chara said. "I think that as a team we play well, we want to make sure we keep getting better, especially this time of year right before the playoffs we want to establish our game and keep moving forward. It's one of those things that you don't want to take kind of a step back or take these games lightly. You want to keep performing and push yourself."

Selected by the New York Islanders in the third round (No. 56) of the 1996 NHL Draft, Chara has 641 points (200 goals, 441 assists) in 1,479 NHL games with the Bruins, Islanders and Ottawa Senators.

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