Disappointed they could lose top seed, Bruins grateful for opportunity
After the National Hockey League rolled out their rather lengthy return-to-play plan on Tuesday, one that includes a 24-team playoff format and a round robin to determine the top four seeds in each conference, the Bruins were left a little disappointed.
After cruising to a league best 100 points, the Bruins now have to play things out in a round-robin style tournament with the Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals and Philadelphia Flyers to determine seeds one through four in the Eastern Conference.
“Obviously a little disappointed with what the team was able to accomplish the first 70 games and then the kind of the point spread that we had between not only the teams in the league but the teams in our division or conference,” team President Cam Neely said via zoom Wednesday afternoon.
"To kind of maybe have three games dictate where we fall in the conference standings is somewhat disappointing, but you know, the fact remains that these are uncharted times for everybody and we're just hoping we can eventually get back on the ice and play meaningful hockey games.”
Although the groundwork is in place for a return to the ice, it’s still unknown if teams will reseed after each round, or the league will follow a bracket style tournament to ultimately crown a Stanley Cup champion in 2020.
Regardless of what path the league takes, and how the round-robin tournament plays out, captain Zdeno Chara says that the Bruins are just grateful for the opportunity to return to the ice and have the chance to compete for the Stanley Cup.
“I think that for us we have to be grateful for the opportunity we’re getting. When you kind of look at the real life perspective, see what other people's families, businesses go through, it’s one of those things that we are getting the opportunity to basically start almost where we kind of ended the season,” Chara said via zoom Thursday morning.
“Not everybody is getting the same chance. You know a lot of people lost a lot of financial supports, businesses went down and they will never get the same opportunity. So we have to be grateful for the opportunity and take it as a huge motivation, excitement and be grateful. Like I said, you know, kind of embrace it.”
Even with the Bruins potentially losing what they worked so hard for in their 70 regular season games, Chara being humble about the whole situation is no surprise.
"The Players' Association with the player reps worked extremely hard to get to this point and come up with something that will be hopefully entertaining and exciting. I think the fans will enjoy it for sure. It's never a perfect scenario. It's not going to be set in stone like it would be after an 82-game regular season,” said Chara who is back in Boston after spending the majority of the quarantine down in Florida with his family.
As the oldest player in all of the NHL, Chara didn’t seem too worried about jumping back into action, acknowledging that anytime you step onto the ice, there’s a risk that comes with it.
“There is definitely risk involved. I think you have to accept the risks in your lives and I'm sure even without this pandemic, every time you step on the ice there is a risk of getting injured or you know things can happen,” said Chara.
“Obviously this is a little bit different. This is something that kind of hit us really hard and still don't know one hundred percent or can guarantee that nothing will happen. But year there is going to be risk involved. We just got to kind of manage what kind of risk we are willing to accept.”
Of course there are more important things to focus on in this world right now than hockey. So for Chara, instead of being down in the dumps about not being on the ice and playing through a normal 82-game slate, followed by playoffs, Chara is thankful for his family and health.
“It kind of makes you realize that things are not always going to be perfect, there are going to be some challenges in your life. You just have to remind yourself of what kind of worked before when you’re facing some challenges and adversity and start implementing those same routines into coming back, like we’re facing now,” said Chara.
“Mostly I’m very grateful and thankful that I’ve been able to have health with my family and spend some time with them.”