- James Murphy, Bruins reporter, ESPNBoston.com
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WILMINGTON, Mass. -- Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara said Tuesday that this summer's investigation into long-term, front-loaded contracts in the NHL, notably one between Ilya Kovalchuk and the New Jersey Devils, stalled talks about extending Chara's deal.
But that doesn't mean the defenseman doesn't want to stay in Boston.
"Of course I want to stay in Boston and be a part of this team possibly for the rest of my career," the 2008-09 Norris Trophy winner said at Ristuccia Arena following the team's first captain's practice. "I enjoy being a Bruin and obviously I want to win a Cup over here."
Chara's current contract is set to expire on July 1, 2011, and while his agent Matt Keator and Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli have had preliminary talks on an extension, Chara believes the questions surrounding the Kovalchuk contract and other similar deals prevented further discussions.
"The investigations and the new rule between the NHL and NHLPA about long-term contracts kind of put everything on a pause," Chara said. "We'll see what happens. At least both sides know what the rules are, and going into the new CBA it's going to be very important to have these rules already set."
Kovalchuk's 15-year, $100 million contract with the Devils was approved by the NHL last Friday. To gain league approval, the NHL Players Association had to accept amendments to the current collective bargaining agreement that will prevent long-term contracts that circumvent the spirit of the CBA by decreasing in value in the later years, and thus lowering the salary cap hit.
The league also agreed to grandfather in contracts of Bruins center Marc Savard, Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger, Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo and Blackhawks winger Marian Hossa that had come under question following an arbiter's report in early August that upheld the league's rejection of Kovalchuk's first contract with the Devils.
Mark Stuart, the Bruins' union player rep, said that the uncertainty of those contracts helped create a standstill in many negotiations, but that the new rules will help not only Chara and other players but also the league's general managers.
"I think it was nice to get that solved and get that rule in place," Stuart said. "First of all it helps because those players know that they have a deal in place, and second it helps the GMs know what they can and can't do because it was a grey area there. It's clear cut now.
"It was fair because there wasn't really a rule in place before. The NHL and NHLPA did the right thing by talking and coming to an agreement."
James Murphy covers the Bruins for ESPNBoston.com.
Zdeno Chara hopes a settlement between the NHL and the players' union revives contract talks with the Bruins.