Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara serves notice to Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby during a January 2017 game. Chara signed with the Washington Capitals last week after 14 seasons in Boston. AP photo/Elise Amendola

Plenty of marriages have been put to the test during the pandemic. Some won’t survive.

Maybe, then, we shouldn’t have been surprised that the Boston Bruins took the ice for the first time Monday without Zdeno Chara on the roster. After 14 mostly happy years in Boston he has moved on and will call Washington his new hockey home.

This marriage dissolved because the two sides have grown apart. It’s a common theme in divorces. The Bruins look at Chara and see a defenseman who will turn 44 in March and will need to carefully manage his time in this condensed season. Chara sees himself as a man who missed only two games last year and still averaged more than 21 minutes of ice time a game – second most on the team.

Once the two sides laid out their feelings, it was clear that it was time to move on.

“I just felt that I had more to offer and I respect their decisions and wish them the best,” Chara told the media in a Zoom session last week, “but I just felt I can still play regularly and play the games and I have no issues with them going a different direction, I just feel like for me at this point in my career it’s better if I continue to play.”

So he will play for the Capitals. And we are left thinking back on the good times.

Chara joined the Bruins in the darkest of times. Coming off a year without hockey (the NHL season was canceled due to an unresolved lockout) the Bruins went 29-37-16 in 2005-06, finishing in last place in what was then called the Northeast Division. Things were so bad they traded captain Joe Thornton in November.

Thornton went on to win the league’s MVP award that year.

Enter Chara. The Bruins took a huge step back toward respectability when they signed the tallest player in NHL history the following July. Chara would wear the “C” for the next 14 seasons. In his second year the Bruins were back in the playoffs. Three years after that they won the Stanley Cup.

The captain’s primal scream when he hoisted the Cup in Vancouver haunts Canucks fans to this day. And it is the sweetest sound this generation of Bruins fans have ever heard.

“I’m very sad,” said Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney last week. “It’s an unrewarding aspect of the job to see a player like that choose to leave.”

Chara joins a list of generational players who have left Boston for other teams in 2020. Some, like Chara and Tom Brady, moved on when their contracts expired and they were given the freedom to pursue a team that valued them more highly. Others, like Mookie Betts, were moved before they got to that point.

That’s an impressive Mount Rushmore of jilted athletes. Enough to knock the likes of Rob Gronkowski, Gordon Hayward, David Price and Brock Holt to the foothills of Boston sports history.

Brady will be throwing passes for Tampa Bay when the playoffs begin this weekend, a few days before Chara takes the ice with the Capitals. Boston fans are left with mixed emotions watching them as their Hall of Fame careers wind down with other franchises.

All we can do is wish them the best. And think back on happier times, when their marriage to Boston seemed like it would never end.

Tom Caron is a studio host for Red Sox broadcasts on NESN. His column runs on Tuesdays in the Portland Press Herald.

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