Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara took a puck off his face in Game 4 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Final, and even though he was advised not to return to the action after receiving medical attention, the B's captain did come back to the bench to provide moral support for his teammates.
It was a gesture Bruins players greatly appreciated.
Bruins forward Brad Marchand wasn't surprised to see Chara come back to the bench for the third period.
"No, not at all," Marchand told reporters Tuesday. "I mean, he's an absolute warrior. I think if it wasn't for the doctor, he would have played that game. He's an absolute leader. Those things, you gain respect for him every single day with what he's willing to go through, be part of the group, lead this team. He's an incredible person."
Bruins forward Sean Kuraly was one of a few players to note that Chara's injury made it tough for him to talk. Despite the immense pain, the B's captain wanted to be there for his teammates as they tried to mount a third-period comeback.
“I think it is tough for (Chara) to speak right now, that was the biggest thing," Kuraly wrote in his NHL.com diary after Boston's 4-2 loss. "He didn’t have to say a word, he was there for us, supporting us anyway. That’s the type of player, the type of leader he is and why he has had the success he has had during his career.”
B's forward Marcus Johansson, who Boston acquired at the trade deadline, praised Chara for his leadership on and off the ice.
"It says everything about what a leader he is," Johansson said. "It's unbelievable to see him out there supporting everyone. It means a lot. He's such an unbelievable leader on and off the ice, with everything he does. He takes that to another level and brings everyone with him."
Chara has earned a tremendous amount of respect not only in Boston but throughout the entire NHL during his lengthy career. He's an exceptional player, a great leader and someone who sets the right example on how to be a professional. Chara's status for Game 5 on Thursday night is uncertain, and if can't play, you know he'll do everything possible to support his teammates off the ice.
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