Bruins captain Zdeno Chara played with a nondisplaced fracture in his left fibula, though it's unclear when the injury occurred. The recovery time, according to a statement released Tuesday by the Bruins, is four weeks, and the injury will not require surgery.
Had the Bruins made the postseason, they would have started it without Chara or with an injured Chara, and without fellow defenseman Dougie Hamilton, who said after the season ended that he was unsure when he could have returned to game action.
The Bruins were already down defenseman Kevan Miller, who had season-ending shoulder surgery in February.
Ultimately, the Bruins bowed out of the playoff picture on the final day of the season.
Reports emerged Tuesday that Chara would not participate for Slovakia in the upcoming world hockey championships because of an injury. Though some reports had it as a broken ankle, it is a fracture in his left fibula.
Though it has not been confirmed when the injury happened, there was a sequence of events near the end of the season that could have led to the fracture.
Chara was hurt April 4, in a Saturday night game against the Maple Leafs. He was hit by a puck on his left ankle blocking a shot from David Booth. He was hobbled at the time, but did not miss a shift and played the rest of the game. He missed the next Bruins practice, on Monday, but returned to the ice the following day.
Chara was on the ice Wednesday when the Bruins played the Capitals. And in that game, he took another puck to the same area. He went down immediately, eventually getting up and skating to the bench in obvious pain.
He did not leave the bench for about three minutes, but returned to the ice and finished the game, playing a total of 23 minutes, 25 seconds. He also played in the final two games of the season, logging 25:39 against Florida and 24:34 against Tampa Bay.
It was an injury-filled season for the 38-year-old defenseman, who missed 19 games after tearing a ligament in his left knee Oct. 23. He struggled to return to form after that injury.
"It's never easy," Chara said on the team's breakup day. "Coming to camp, I really felt I was in the best shape I was in in a long time and felt extremely well. And then something like that happens, you don't want to deal with it.
"But again, it happened and it took me a while to be back at my game. Believe it or not, it's something that slows you down.
"You have to make adjustments, you have to deal with different things that you're not used to and, again, at the end of the season I felt much better and back to myself and performing like I'm more known for."