BOSTON (CBS) -- Zdeno Chara turned 44 years old in the middle of a hyper-condensed schedule. He played in all but one regular-season game for the Capitals, logging over 1,000 minutes of ice time.
Physically, Chara said he felt great all year. But now that his season has been ended by his former team, Chara is going to take some time to decide whether or not he returns for another NHL season next year.
"As far as myself and my future, I'm gonna probably take a few days to talk to my family and make decisions after," Chara told the media on Tuesday. "I think that it's not always a decision that I can make myself. Like I said, sometimes there are things in life that you have to realize, and I have to obviously have those conversations with my wife and my children and see where we're gonna be in the next few days or weeks."
Chara added: "After those conversations, I'm going to probably let those emotions settle in and see where I'm at."
Emotions obviously ran high for Chara on Sunday night, when he had to line up and shake the hands of his former teammates to congratulate them on their 4-1 series win.
"At that point, it's obviously a disappointing feeling," Chara said. "I think we all shared the same feeling of being disappointed by being eliminated. But, you know, you pay the share of respect to your opponent, so obviously congratulated all the Boston Bruin players and the coaches for moving on."
Chara scored two goals and tallied eight assists while posting a plus-5 rating in 55 games on the Washington blue line. He played all five of Washington's playoff games, averaging 16:16 of ice time and posting a plus-1 rating. Relied upon for his defense, Chara led all Capitals with 20:14 of shorthanded time on ice in both the regular season and the playoffs.
But Chara -- who turned down an offer to play a reduced role in Boston, where he had been captain since 2006 -- had to spend the entire season separated from his family, only seeing his wife and children when he visited Boston for road games. That, Chara said, was much harder than playing in the NHL at the age of 44.
"Definitely that was one of those things that I found the most challenging, being away from my family," Chara said. "But at the same time, the accommodation and the environment I was in made it much easier and better than I expected. So looking forward to seeing my family, my kids again every day. But definitely that will be a factor going into the decision I'll be making in the future."
Chara's career already spans 23 seasons, as he made his NHL debut in 1997 for the New York Islanders. (He played in the Swedish Elite League during the 2004-05 lockout and the KHL during what would have been the first half of the 2012-13 season, too.) Chara ranks 13th in NHL history with 1,608 regular-season games played, and if he were to play another season, he could move up as far as sixth on that list. He's also tied with Jari Kurri for 22nd in most playoff games played with an even 200.
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