BOSTON, MA -- In a way, today's informal practice constituted a leveling up to a "Captains Practice" as Zdeno Chara was among the new Bruins faces skating at Boston University's Agganis Arena.
And, frankly, it didn't matter if it wasn't actually Chara who was running practice.
"I didn’t," said Chara of taking the reigns. "It’s pretty much who ever has got a drill is explaining, but it was fun."
There was more fun, but having the B's captain on the ice wearing Black & Gold served notice that the intensity of the daily routine would also level up in short order.
"I’m expecting everyone to be in shape and be ready," said Chara. "We are still one of the better teams that had most of the guys involved and playing.
"Some guys who couldn’t play are still in shape and they look good, but I think it’s [everyone's] responsibility, going into camp, to be in good shape and ready to go."
There's no doubt that Chara -- legendary league-wide for his own fitness routine -- is ready. The B's blueliner most recently played for Prague Lev in the KHL and posted 4-6-10 totals in 25 games.
"There are some really, really skilled guys," said Chara of the comparison between the KHL and NHL. "The players are highly skilled as far as skating and handling the puck and making plays.
"I think it’s less physical but skating-wise, skill-wise it’s a little bit different. There are some really high-tempo games, there are some games that are more set back and focusing more on defense. Every game is a little bit different, certain teams are playing more defensive style, obviously, a lot of traveling involved, a lot of time zones.
"It all can [effect] how you play," he said.
But it shouldn't have effected how the B's prepared for a new season.
"You are trying to stay in shape and play," said the Bruins captain. "A lot of us tried to be playing and some guys couldn’t.
"I think we were one of the teams that most of their guys were involved and playing," he repeated. "If you count 12 guys overseas and some guys in the minors, so that’s a pretty good number, considering that some teams didn’t have that.
"If it’s going to be an advantage or not - we’ll see.
"Hopefully it is," said Chara.
In any case, the B's will have little time to think about the past in a shortened season.
"I don’t think it’s going to be easy on anybody," said Chara when asked if the B's were ahead of the game bringing most of the same personnel back to Boston. "I think when you have a quick start with that many games it’s going to be hard, no matter what.
"So, all the little things are going to make a difference. [The team's] got to be ready to go."
Like his teammates, Chara was asked about returning to Boston, his home for the past six seasons.
"I think all of us knew our place was here," said Boston's biggest Bruin. "That’s where we want to be, where we want to play…we all knew that that’s where we want to be is here."
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