In the Bruins locker room captained by Zdeno Chara, precise word selection is imperative. Take, for instance, the term “rookie.” Take it and toss it over the boards. For reasons that trace back some 20 years to his junior hockey days in Slovakia, Chara believes the word has no place in the hockey workplace.
“I had a couple of bad experiences,’’ the earnest, 6-foot-9-inch defenseman said of his playing days in Trencin, where, he recalled, rookies often were forced to perform demeaning chores or rituals. “And I said, ‘You know, if I ever am in a position to control that, I would totally change it, because it’s not fair.’ ”
So he has; in the Bruins’ locker room, newcomers are respectfully called “first-year players” or “younger guys” or “newer guys.’’
Chara long ago learned what the Miami Dolphins failed to see: Nothing good comes of team leadership gone awry. While the alleged bullying of Dolphin offensive lineman Jonathan Martin by fellow lineman Richie Incognito in Miami appears to be the extreme exception in pro sports, it also stands as a cautionary reminder for teams to maintain a healthy, respectful work culture.
In his junior hockey days of 20 years ago, Chara recalls, “It was just very immature things guys were doing to younger players — just stupid things that they did and you look at it, thinking, ‘Hey, why would you do that?’ It was just basically them proving, ‘Hey, I’m the older guy, I have the right to do that to you.’
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