BOSTON, Massachusetts — Another longtime Boston sports superstar and team captain is leaving New England to finish his career elsewhere.
Zdeno Chara announced Wednesday on Instagram that he is leaving the Boston Bruins after 14-seasons with the organization. Chara has been captain since the 2006-07 season and has been in the National Hockey League (NHL) since his 1997-98 rookie year with the New York Islanders.
The Washington Capitals turn 43 this season.
The larger-than-life figure was a fan favorite as his aggression on the ice matched the intensity of the fans watching games in the TD Garden. Chara was a key factor in the Bruins Stanley Cup victory in 2011 and its run to the cup in 2013, and 2019.
His Instagram farewell to fans hints that his departure from the Bay State was not his choice:
"The Boston Bruins have informed me that they plan to move forward with their many younger and talented players and I respect their decision. Unfortunately, my time as the proud Captain of the Bruins has come to an end," he wrote, in part.
Despite his age, Chara was still a key defenseman for the Bruins last year when the team led the NHL in points after the shortened regular season. Chara averaged more than 21 minutes of ice time at age 42.
He made history last fall when he became the first defenseman in NHL history age 42 or older to have multiple, game-winning goals in the same season after he gave Boston a 2-1 lead over the Ottawa Senators last November.
The Slovakia native has made six NHL All-Star teams and won five "hardest shot" competitions, setting the record at 108.8 MPH in 2012. He's also played in the most playoff game 7s in league history.
Before coming to Boston, Chara skated for four years with the Islanders and four years with the Senators before making the move to Boston in 2006.
Chara and former Boston defensemen Torey Krug were both free agents this offseason and were expected to be key signings for the team as it tries to get back to the Stanley Cup after losing it to the St. Louis Blues in 2019.
Krug signed a contract with St. Louis earlier this offseason.
"As I begin this next chapter, I want the people of Boston to know how proud I was to be a Bruin and how grateful I am for all of the support over the years," Chara wrote on Instagram. "'Thank you” does not seem adequate to express my sincere gratitude. I will always be a Bruin. I will always love Boston,"
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the NHL reshuffled its divisions, in large part because the U.S.-Canada border is still closed for travel. As a result, all seven Canadian teams will make up the new North Division.
The East Division will, of course, feature Boston and Chara's new team, the Washington Capitals. Because of a division-only schedule, Chara will play eight games against his former teammates.
Losing longtime stars is becoming a tradition Boston sports fans would like to see end. Chara joins Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady in leaving New England on questionable terms after more than a decade of service.