BOSTON (CBS) -- When Zdeno Chara decided to politely reject the role offered to him by Bruins general manager Don Sweeney, the 14-year Boston captain had to make the difficult decision to leave the franchise. And that decision came with another call that was much more difficult to make.
Leaving Boston meant leaving his family.
With Chara's decision coming so soon before the start of the 2021 season, he barely had time to report to training camp on time himself, let alone establish a new life for his wife and children in the D.C. area. So they stayed behind.
Now though, with Chara and the Capitals in Boston to face the Bruins this week, the 43-year-old finally got to see his family after spending months away from them.
"I was able to see my family, my kids. It was really nice to see them after a long time and be a dad for one day again," Chara told the media on Tuesday.
While adjusting to a new team and new locker room in the middle of a pandemic surely hasn't been easy, Chara's had the additional challenge of doing it alone.
"Well I think we're trying to do our best with the technology that we have available these days. Obviously with FaceTime and phone technologies, you can be in touch daily and a number of times if needed," Chara said. "But it's different, not being with them at home. But those are the sacrifices we talked about before I made a decision, and so far it's been working. Like I said, it was nice to see them last night."
After being offered a reduced role in Boston, Chara opted to leave the Bruins as a free agent. He signed with the Capitals, and he has thus far played in all 21 of their games, averaging 19:24 of ice time, scoring two goals with four assists, and posting a plus-10 rating. In his second game against Boston this season (played in Washington), he scored his second goal of the year.
The game between the Bruins and Capitals on Wednesday night will be Chara's first game as a visitor in Boston since he came to town with Ottawa in 2006. The lack of fans inside TD Garden will prevent this homecoming from being a major emotional moment for Chara and for the Boston fans who watched him lead their team for so long. Still, Chara was asked what he would say to those fans who -- under normal circumstances -- would be giving him a well-deserved ovation on Wednesday night.
"I think from day one in 2006 when I signed with the Boston Bruins, I felt really connected with Boston fans and the city of Boston. I developed so many great friendships and connections. We went through so many ups and downs together. We always felt their energy and support of being with us and behind us in those times," Chara said. "The best moment that we all can probably share was to bring the Stanley Cup back to Boston in 2011. I can't tell you how much I appreciated and how lucky and blessed I am to share these celebrations with the fans and everything they've done for me and my family, all these communities I've been a part of. So I just want to thank them for everything they've done for me and my family -- for the support and for the love."
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