As Zdeno Chara addressed the media Friday, two days removed from the Bruins’ Game 7 loss to the Canadiens, he kept his left hand in his pocket. It was that hand — the fingers, specifically — that were the subject of interest.
Reports surfaced Thursday that Chara would need surgery on a fractured finger, according to the general manager of the Slovakian national team. Chara put that story to rest, saying surgery would not be needed, which he called “a positive,” though it was something he needed to “stay on top of these next few days.”
But that was about all Chara would say on the injury.
“I don’t like to talk about injuries,” the Bruins captain said. “It’s something that doesn’t need to be surgically done so far, and hopefully it stays that way. It’s not something that I’m going to be blaming or making excuses. That’s the way it is.
“We all play with different injuries or you’re banged up, and that’s part of hockey and the playoffs. For sure that’s not why we lost.
“We all do what we can to play. Once you put the uniform on, you’re 100 percent committed to play and do whatever needs to be done to help the team.”
Chara did not seem himself against Montreal, especially in Game 7. He mishandled the puck a few times, and nearly fell down on one penalty kill. The Canadiens’ third goal went off his skate.
“Nothing else is expected from him,” Dennis Seidenberg said of Chara playing through injuries. “Everybody seems to be used to that. He’s just such a warrior. He plays through stuff, without anybody ever knowing if something is wrong with him. So that’s why he’s our captain, that’s why he’s our leader and everybody looks up to him.”
General manager Peter Chiarelli declined to comment on Chara’s injury because, he said, “I’m afraid if I do, someone may misconstrue it as an excuse. We had players playing hurt, and that is how I’ll leave it.”
The Bruins had hoped to lighten Chara’s load, but that became almost impossible after Seidenberg was injured. Chara ended up averaging 24 minutes and 39 seconds of ice time, nearly the same as last season (24:56).
“If you’re asking me how do I think Z played, he looked tired,” Chiarelli said. “I would put him in with a bunch of players that didn’t perform at the level that they should have and that is one of the reasons why we lost.
“I’m not singling out Z — I could name five, 10 players. I could name myself because we didn’t get the right defensemen.
“He’s a terrifically conditioned athlete. He’s very serious. He works hard in the offseason. The way he can move with his size, it’s unparalleled.
“So it wouldn’t surprise me if he continues status quo for a little bit, a year or two years, three years. But just laws of physics and nature, the older you get, the less effective you’ll be. But he’s, as I said, an impact defender.”
Coach Claude Julien, though, took issue with the suggestion that Chara might have been tired.
“Anybody who thinks he was tired at the end, you’re wrong,” Julien said.
Seidenberg was close
Seidenberg confirmed he likely would have played in the Eastern Conference finals had the Bruins advanced, saying there was a “good chance.”
“I think we did everything in our power in trying to get back,” Seidenberg said of the ACL/MCL tear he suffered Dec. 27. He had surgery Jan. 7.
Asked when he realized returning might be a possibility, Seidenberg said, “I think right from the beginning, I mean, they do tell you 6-8 months, but I know people that have come back in a shorter period of time, so I told myself, ‘Why not? I’ll try my best and see where it takes me.’ ”
It took him to the brink of playing after he took light contact Monday for the first time, and continued to make progress. He wasn’t sure whether he could have returned for Game 1 or Game 2 against the Rangers, but that would have been a possibility.
Instead, with a comeback in sight, the season ended. And as Chara said, “We did feel that [Seidenberg] was a missing piece in our lineup.”
Seidenberg said his strength and conditioning were good. There was still some pain, but nothing he couldn’t have withstood. He will continue to rehab before moving into his offseason program and on to training camp.
And at that point, Seidenberg said, he has no concerns about playing like his usual self.
“I’ll be better,” he said with a smile. “Yeah, I’m confident I’ll be just as [good], hopefully better, than before.”
Unlike last season, when Chiarelli told Andrew Ference he would not be brought back, the GM did not make any such proclamations about his unrestricted free agents (Jarome Iginla, Shawn Thornton, Chad Johnson, Andrej Meszaros, and Corey Potter). Thornton, he said, “had a kind of up-and-down year.” Chiarelli said fighting in the NHL is “trending away from that style.” Thornton said he was hoping to return to the Bruins next season. “But if not, I am still going to be in the community,” he said. “I am still going to be here. This is where we live now. This is home. That stuff will not change. I’ll be here, trying to get back when I can. I love it here.” He said he hoped to play for at least one or two more seasons.