BOSTON (AP) Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara is already in midseason form when it comes to talking – or not talking – about injuries.
The Bruins’ captain returned to the ice this week after sustaining an undisclosed upper body injury in a Sept. 24 exhibition game against the New York Rangers. But he’s been skating alone, before his teammates take the ice.
Asked about his progress at media day on Thursday, Chara said, ”I skated today.” Asked if he was able to shoot pucks yet, Chara repeated, ”I skated today.”
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The Bruins are still hoping their top defenseman can return for the regular-season opener against the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday night – especially since No. 2 defenseman Dennis Seidenberg is expected to be out until November after surgery to repair a herniated disc.
Chara said he can’t put a timetable on his return as he tries to recover from an undisclosed injury.
”Today was better than it was yesterday,” he said. ”If it keeps improving, we’ll see how it’s going to be next week.”
When healthy, Chara has long been the Bruins’ leader in time on the ice. Getting used to the bench has been difficult.
”It’s not just the games. I hate missing practice. I hate missing skating with the guys,” he said. ”But at the same time, I know it’s a process that you need to go through.”
Bruins general manager Don Sweeney said one benefit of having injuries in training camp is some younger defensemen can get more ice time. If they develop faster, that could help the older players such as Chara and Seidenberg absorb less ice time during the season.
”We’ve used the injuries during training camp to our advantage,” Sweeney said. ”We’re moving forward with some of those guys that will step up. We’re committed to allowing those guys to find their way.”
Sooner or later, the Bruins will have to transition to a younger defensive group and away from Chara, 38, and Seidenberg, 34. Both players insisted that their current injuries had nothing to do with age, though recovery times can be longer with older players.
”It’s stuff that happens, even to younger guys,” Seidenberg said. ”Me and `Z’ are a little bit older, but we’re not old.”