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Chara ‘disappointed’ after what might be final Olympic appearance

Feb 18, 2014, 4:56 PM EST

CharaJagr Getty Images

Zdeno CharaSlovakia’s flag bearer at the opening ceremonies — is leaving the Games on a sour note.

Slovakia was eliminated on Tuesday with a 5-3 loss to the Czechs, ending Chara’s shot at a medal in what might be his last Winter Olympics.

“You never know. We’ll see how it’s going to play out,” he said of future participation. “As of right now, I don’t look that much ahead. Right now I’m just disappointed we didn’t perform better.”

After a captivating effort in Vancouver that saw the Slovaks place fourth — their highest-ever finish — the team was unable to capture similar magic in Sochi. Slovakia was routed 7-1 by the Americans in the tournament opener, lost 3-1 to Slovenia in a massive upset, then rallied to take the Russians to a shootout… before losing that, too.

In the playoff game against the Czechs, Slovakia fell behind 4-0 before a late rally cut the deficit to one. Chara and company were unable to come any closer, though, and finished the Olympics in 11th place.

“We were not able, besides the game against Russia, to put 60 minutes together,” Chara explained. “This game, we lost the beginning of the game. They got ahead 3-0 (in the first period); obviously it’s a tough game to come back from, being behind three goals.”

Chara turns 37 in March and would be nearing his 41st birthday by the time the Pyeongchang Olympics roll around in 2018. His age, plus the uncertainty of future NHL participation, mean Sochi could’ve been his last kick at the can.

Chara’s been to the Olympics three times — 2006, ’10 and ’14 — and is one of his country’s greatest players. Once he’s done competing internationally, though, the future of Slovakian hockey gets murky; he, along with veterans Marian Hossa, Michal Handzus, Tomas Kopecky and Peter Budaj are all on the wrong side of 30 and there’s a dearth of young prospects on the horizon. Tomas Tatar, Richard Panik, Martin Marincin and Tomas Jurco essentially represent the best current Slovak youngsters in the NHL; Columbus’ Marko Dano (27th overall, ’13) is one to watch for the future but, in 2012, not a single Slovak prospect was drafted.

As such, Chara recognized Sochi as a missed opportunity for one final shot at international glory.

“We had a really rough game against the U.S. and that put us down a bit mentally, the confidence wasn’t there,” he said, per IIHF.com. “But we bounced back against Russia in probably our best game of the tournament. 

“We thought we would follow that up tonight, but we didn’t really do it.”

  1. skr213 - Feb 18, 2014 at 5:26 PM

    Couldn’t happen to a nicer guy. I guess the Olympic style just isn’t suited to this normal dirty play.

    • therooneyskilledwebster - Feb 18, 2014 at 9:01 PM

      Don’t be upset that your crappy team isn’t fortunate enough to have the captain of a Stanley Cup champion on their roster. Dirty play ? You must enjoy women’s hockey.

  2. jcmeyer10 - Feb 18, 2014 at 5:29 PM

    As a Bruins fan I hope he gets on the next flight to Boston and doesn’t move a muscle until their practice on the 26th.

    I wanted him to win but don’t mind the big fella getting some rest.

    • hockeyflow33 - Feb 18, 2014 at 6:50 PM

      He only played four games and didn’t play too many minutes there so I bet this was a nice break for his body.

      • jcmeyer10 - Feb 18, 2014 at 9:01 PM

        Yah, it was a light load all things considered but still. The last minute of Game 6 of the SCF summed it up, the Bruins ran out of gas. I want Chara to be able to represent his country but am a Bruins fan far before I am a Slovakian fan so I am ultimately being selfish here.

  3. isithockeyseasonyet - Feb 18, 2014 at 7:26 PM

    Dude plays so effortlessly, doesn’t seem to take a lot of hits despite his style, I’d be surprised if he wasn’t there in 2018 unless he stops feeling like playing hockey

    • jcmeyer10 - Feb 18, 2014 at 9:03 PM

      Seriously, I wonder how many fewer strides he takes to get across the ice compared to the average player.

    • comeonnowguys - Feb 18, 2014 at 11:45 PM

      Effortlessly = slow?

      • shaundre93 - Feb 19, 2014 at 1:00 AM

        Effortlessly = Dominating the opposition without effort

      • hockey412 - Feb 19, 2014 at 8:46 AM

        With all that “effortless domination” talk being thrown around you’d think this was not an article about being eliminated from the Olympics…

      • comeonnowguys - Feb 19, 2014 at 9:11 AM

        Effortlessly = getting skated around.

  4. packerswin96 - Feb 18, 2014 at 7:37 PM

    Always nice when Chara loses.

  5. stcrowe - Feb 18, 2014 at 8:13 PM

    That’s what happens when your country sucks at hockey.

    Looking at what has happened to hockey in the Czech Republic and Slovakia in recent years, I guess that Czechoslovakia as one country was greater than its parts hockey-wise.

  6. rcouellet - Feb 19, 2014 at 12:08 AM

    I feel bad for Z, the guy is a hard worker and an excellent captain. Hopefully he can shake off this loss and spend a little time in his home country, relax, and refocus his energy once the NHL season picks up. While it sucks not winning a medal, it’s nice being able to go back to a team that’s got a good chance at winning the cup.

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