There are some honors that are just too big to pass up. That is the situation that arose for the Boston Bruins and captain Zdeno Chara. One of the premier defenseman in all of the NHL, and also captain of his Olympic team Slovakia, Chara was bestowed the honor of flag bearer for the upcoming opening ceremonies for the 2014 Winter Olympics.
The problem? The ceremonies, held on Feb. 7, begin a full six days before the hockey schedule does, and before the NHL schedule takes its Olympic break. Add that the Bruins have a game on Feb. 8 against the Ottawa Senators, and it creates a bit of a pickle. But with a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity sitting in Chara's lap, the Bruins have given the Slovak permission to miss the Senators game and represent his country.
Bruins President and former player Cam Neely took to the radio Thursday to explain the organization's decision to allow Chara to leave the team and miss a game:
"He had asked the organization if he could do this. It's quite an honor," Neely said on Felger and Mazz on Thursday afternoon. "Obviously, I shared my feeling about the Olympics with you last week ... there's a number of reasons why I don't like our league shutting down. Zdeno's done a lot for this organization since he's been here. If it didn't mean as much to him as it does, he wouldn't have asked. So we feel it was the right thing to do.
"Obviously, I'd prefer to have him in the lineup, but we feel this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for him. He really didn't want to pass up this opportunity."
The men's Olympic hockey tournament begins on Feb. 12, and Chara and Slovakia begin play a day later at 7:30 a.m. against the United States.