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KHL did not try to keep Zdeno Chara 01.09.13 at 11:48 am ET
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Zdeno Chara

Speaking publicly for the first time since returning from the KHL on Tuesday and amidst speculation that KHL teams were making big financial pushes to keep NHL players from returning to their teams, Bruins captain Zdeno Chara said Wednesday that he was not approached about staying in Europe.

“No,” Chara said after skating with teammates at Agganis Arena. “It was pretty clear in my contract that once the NHL is beginning or the deal [for a new CBA] is done, that I’m leaving. It depends on how the guys feel or how they want to decide what to do.”

Ilya Kovalchuk has been the most popular player whose future remains uncertain as the start of the NHL season draws near. Though he’s entering the third year of a 15-year, $100-million contract with the Devils, multiple reports have surfaced citing Devils sources who believe Kovalchuk will stay in the KHL. Islanders defensman Lubomir Visnovsky recently announced his intention to remain with HC Slovan Bratislava for the rest of the season rather than going back to the NHL.

“There’s a lot of speculation, there’s a lot of uncertainty, but we’ll see,” Chara said of NHL players staying in the KHL. “I mean, what can I say? I can’t really make comments for them.”

Since forming in 2008, the KHL (Kontinental Hockey League) has become the NHL’s primary competition as hockey leagues go.

“There are some really, really skilled guys there,” Chara said. “Players are very highly skilled as far as skating and handling he puck and making plays. I think it’s less physical, but skating-wise and skill-wise it’s a little bit different.”

Other new additions to Wednesday’s session at BU were alternate captains Chris Kelly and Patrice Bergeron.

Read More: Chris Kelly, Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno Chara,
Bruins away from Boston roundup: Anthony Camara continues to impress 10.08.12 at 12:21 pm ET
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Here’s the latest check on the Bruins’ stats as they play elsewhere during the lockout. Not everyone is in action quite just yet, as Patrice Bergeron (Switzerland) and Andrew Ference (Czech) have signed with their teams but have yet to play. Shawn Thornton is still looking for work, so keep an eye on that situation as it unfolds.

Tyler Seguin's new threads. (AP)

[Certain leagues' stats take a little longer to surface on the various hockey statistics sites (HockeyDB is used for most of these), so some statistics might not be up to the day/hour/minute/etc.]

Swiss National League A

- In four games for EHC Biel, Tyler Seguin has one goal and two assists for three points and and a minus-4 rating. For any college hockey fans out there, Seguin is teammates with former UNH forward Jacob Micflickier in Biel.

KHL

- Zdeno Chara has a KHL game under his belt after choosing to play for Prague Lev last week. Chara did not record any points and has an even rating.

- 2011 second-round pick Alexander Khokhlachev has struggled mightily with Moscow Spartak, and the 19-year-old could be leaving the KHL to return back to the OHL. The Windsor Spitfires, Khokhlachev’s OHL team, claimed the playmaking center on re-entry waivers last week to secure his rights in the event that he does return. In 14 KHL games, the Moscow native has one goal and a minus-5 rating. Khokhlachev only had OHL seasons under his belt before opting to play for Moscow Spartak, the team of which his father is the general manager.

- In seven games for Moscow Oblast Atlant, Bruins backup goalie Anton Khudobin has a 2.88 goals-against average and a .918 save percentage to go with his 2-3-2 record.

Czech Elite League

- After finally securing a deal in the Czech Elite League last week, David Krejci has one goal and an even rating through two games for HC Pardubice.

- Ference is in the Czech Republic and had his first practice for Ceske Budejovice HC on Monday morning.

Deutsche Eishockey League

- In two games for the Manheim Eagles, Dennis Seidenberg has not recorded any points and has an even rating game. Seidenberg chose the Eagles as his team for the lockout so he could play with his brother, forward Yannic Seidenberg.

SM-liiga

- Through three games for JyP HT Jyvaskyla of the SM-liiga, Bruins forward Rich Peverley has one assist and four penalty minutes.

OHL

- Tough guy Anthony Camara continues to dominate in his fourth OHL season after scoring a hat trick in the season-opener. Through seven games for the Barrie Colts this season, Camara has seven goals and three assists for 10 points and a plus-1 rating. The Bruins’ third-round pick in 2011 also has 15 penalty minutes this season. It should be worth noting that Camara’s career high for goals in the OHL is 16, a number he should far surpass this season. Camara’s scoring has steadily increased over his OHL career, as he went from six to eight to 16 in his first three seasons.

- In seven games for the Niagara IceDogs, Dougie Hamilton has three goals and four assists for seven points and a plus-7 rating. Hamilton also has four penalty minutes.

- 2012 first-round pick Malcolm Subban has a 2.18 goals-against average and .929 save percentage through five games for the Belleville Bulls. His record this season is 3-2.

Read More: NHL Lockout, Tyler Seguin, Zdeno Chara,
Rich Peverley, Tuukka Rask headed overseas, Zdeno Chara still weighing options 09.24.12 at 4:44 pm ET
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Tuukka Rask

According to a report out of Finland, Bruins forward Rich Peverley will sign with JYP Jyvaskyla of the SM-liiga in Finland to play during the lockout, and ESPNBoston is reporting that goaltender Tuukka Rask will sign with HC Plzen in the Czech Extraliga.

Rask’s signing makes him the third player headed to the Czech Extraliga, as Andrew Ference will play for Ceske Budejovice and David Krejci will play for HC Pardubice.

With Monday’s news, Bruins players set to play overseas for the lockout now include Rask, Peverley, Krejci, Ference, Tyler Seguin (Swiss Elite League), Dennis Seidenberg (Deutsche Eishockey Liga) and Anton Khudobin (KHL).

A source told WEEI.com on Monday that captain Zdeno Chara is still weighing his options and is in no hurry to find a place to play this season.

Read More: Rich Peverley, Tuukka Rask, Zdeno Chara,
Bruins players hold last pre-lockout practice 09.14.12 at 12:48 pm ET
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It looks like a lockout

WILMINGTON — Who knows when it will happen again, but Bruins players took the ice Friday at Ristuccia Arena for an informal practice. It figures to be their last time at their practice rink before the owners lock the players out on Saturday night.

B’s players (everyone was present with the exception of Nathan Horton, Chris Kelly and Brad Marchand) were joined by other local skaters, including defensemen Keith Yandle (Coyotes) and Ryan Whitney (Oilers). Ryan Bourque, son of Ray Bourque and younger brother of Chris Bourque, was also in attendance.

Some players will stick around locally and hold informal skates for the time being, while others (such as Dennis Seidenberg) will likely play elsewhere. Captain Zdeno Chara plans to stay in Boston for the time being, but he said Friday that as the two sides continue to negotiate, missing games helps nobody.

“Everybody [loses],” Chara said. “The players sacrifice, the owners sacrifice, the fans sacrifice. Everybody loses something. There’s no question about that.”

Added Chara: “We all want to play. We all love hockey. That’s our jobs, but at the same time we have to play under certain rules and it’s got to make sense.”

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Looking back and ahead: Zdeno Chara 05.22.12 at 11:08 pm ET
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With the Bruins’ season in the books, WEEI.com will take a look at each player on the roster one-by-one to provide some perspective on what went wrong this season and what the future holds for the 2011 champions.

Zdeno Chara

Age: 35

2011-12 stats: 79 games played, 12 goals, 40 assists (career-high), 52 points (career-high), plus-33 (tied career-high)

Contract status: Signed through 2017-18 season ($6,916,667 cap hit through 2016-17 season, $4 million cap hit in 2017-18)

Looking back: Chara had the best offensive season of his career and was once again one of the most dominant defensemen in the league. He averaged 25 minutes a night, which is right around his average over the last three seasons.

What was uncharacteristic for Chara, however, was his midseason slump. Though the Bruins as a whole were not playing their best hockey, the B’s captain didn’t look like himself in many of their losses. From Feb. 8-19, Chara finished with a negative rating in five of six games and was an overall minus-9 in that span. He was a minus-3 on three separate occasions in February and March after only having a rating worse than minus-2 once in the previous season.

Despite some bad nights from the captain, the 2011-12 season marked the second consecutive and third overall campaign in which Chara finished with a plus-33 rating. That was tops amongst NHL defensemen and third amongst players, and he had a lot to do with the fact that the five best ratings came from Bruins this season (Patrice Bergeron led the league with a plus-36, followed by Tyler Seguin‘s plus-34, Chara’s plus-33, Chris Kelly‘s plus-33 and Brad Marchand‘s plus-31).

After skating with Johnny Boychuk in the regular season, Chara was paired with Dennis Seidenberg for the playoffs. Though he was beaten a couple of times and finished the postseason with a minus-1 rating, Chara teamed with Seidenberg to limit Alexander Ovechkin for the most part and keep the games low-scoring.

In the end, it wouldn’t be surprising if Chara’s season earns him his second Norris Trophy as the league’s top defenseman, but in the interest of full disclosure, my top vote went to Nashville’s Shea Weber. While there’s no denying that Chara is the best defenseman in the league, his midseason struggles made it tough to say that this was truly a full campaign of vintage Chara.

Looking ahead: While other players get plenty of accolades too (Tim Thomas‘ save percentage record, Seguin’s points, that Selke Trophy that should finally be making its way to Bergeron this summer), there is no doubt that Chara is the Bruins’ best and most important player.

Chara may be getting up there in age, but he is truly one of the few players in the league a team should be happy to have signed through his 30s and into his 40s. There might not be a better-conditioned player in the league, and you’d be hard-pressed to find a player more dedicated to his training, both from a work and diet perspective.

With Boychuk re-signed, you can assume that Claude Julien will continue to play Chara with Boychuk, at least to start next regular season. The guy who has the best chance at breaking up Chara and Boychuk might be youngster Dougie Hamilton, but don’t expect that to happen next season. Hamilton needs to show he can handle 20-plus minutes a night before he can be paired with a guy like Chara, but the idea of a Chara-Hamilton pairing could really put the Bruins’ blue line over the top. Hamilton could be the offensive presence on the back end that the team has been seeking for years.

Getting back to Chara: The offensive numbers may go up and down, but he’ll be the first to tell that while he likes to score, he prides himself on not letting the other team score. In a nutshell, that’s what he is. He’s the guy who will play close to half the game, be a nightmare for opposing teams’ offensive stars, and keep opponents off the board. Then there’s that slapshot.

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Zdeno Chara a finalist for Norris Trophy 04.26.12 at 12:40 pm ET
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Bruins captain Zdeno Chara was among the three finalists for the Norris Trophy, which is awarded to “to the defense player who demonstrates throughout the season the greatest all-round ability in the position.” The other finalists are Nashville’s Shea Weber and Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson.

Chara had a career-best 52 points (12 goals, 40 assists) during the regular season and his plus-33 rating was tops among all defensemen. This is his fourth nomination for the Norris, which he won in 2009.

Read More: Zdeno Chara,
Bruins getting offensive with the defense 04.24.12 at 10:21 am ET
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Andrew Ference (21) celebrates his go-ahead goal in Game 6 against the Caps with David Krejci (46). (AP)

For all of the talk – and deservedly so – about Patrice Bergeron finally getting nominated as a finalist for the Selke award for best defensive forward in the game, it’s ironic that the offensive play of the Bruins’ defensemen is a key reason they even find themselves in a Game 7 Wednesday night against the Caps.

“Yeah, they’ve played well all series, but also I think all year and it’s just another aspect of our game that shows right there that we’re deep offensively, but also we’re deep on defense and throughout the lineup,” Bergeron said Monday. “They’ve been helping us in this series a lot to just get offense, but also defensively to stop their skilled guys and can’t say enough about all of them back there. They all do their job and they all take pride in it.”

Everyone knows about the abilities of Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg in helping to contain Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Semin and Nicklas Backstrom. And everyone knows that both of them bring cannons from the point with their slap shots. What fans – and even the Caps – may not have counted on was the offensive contributions of Johnny Boychuk and Andrew Ference.

Boychuck had one of his patented “Johnny Rockets” on a power play to tie Saturday’s Game 5 at 3-3, when time was running down. Sunday, it appeared for all the world that Ference – on “Earth Day” – had given the Bruins the game-winning goal in regulation when he pinched down and scooped up a rebound off a Tyler Seguin shot and put it in the net.

Earlier in the game, it was Ference who smartly read the rush of Patrice Bergeron and Rich Peverley out of the offensive zone circle draw toward the slot and fired a shot that Peverley tipped past Braden Holtby for the game’s first goal.

“I think he’s done a great job,” B’s coach Claude Julien said of Ference. “We’ve always liked Andrew’s battle and also for his size and also for the fact that he certainly has good versatility. He moves well, he skates well and again, we keep encouraging our D’s to support the attack and go out the ice and he’s done a great job of that.”

There is a risk, of course, like when Chara and Seidenberg get caught too far up ice as was the case on Capitals’ goals in Games 3 and 6. In Game 6, the Capitals tied the game, 2-2, when Jason Chimera got behind Seidenberg, who had a broken skate, and beat Tim Thomas.

“Our D’s seem to be finding a little bit more balance in this series as we get near the end, between jumping in [and] supporting, and also being reliable defensively we can’t forget the fact that this is a team in Washington that’s got some guys that can score goals and they love to blow the zone quickly. So we’ve got to be careful we don’t get our D’s caught up the ice all the time, but he did a great job [Sunday] at identifying that opening and going up the ice and giving us that lead.”

The Bruins will be relying on that again in Game 7 as they look for every advantage.

Read More: 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs, Andrew Ference, Boston Bruins, Dennis Seidenberg
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