BOSTON — Other than that Stanley Cup Final thing going on in town, the big news here in Boston is that Patriots quarterback Tom Brady wants to copyright the nickname Tom Terrific.
Perhaps Zdeno Chara, a buddy of Brady’s, should get in on the action.
If Brady can poach Tom Seaver, Chara can pilfer Superman. The Bruins' captain is the new Man of Steel.
It became clear early Thursday morning that Chara, the 42-year-old warhorse in skates, is planning on playing against the Blues in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final after a puck to the face knocked him out of Game 4.
But reports say he has a broken jaw!
And some reporters are clucking about concussion protocol!
If you are the type to get tied up in that player safety stuff, realize this is the league that sent commissioner Gary Bettman to the podium for his state of the league speech without one talking point on concussions. The NFL pretends to care about head injuries. The NHL just ignores them.
The Bruins downplayed the notion of Chara's brain being injured by a puck that reportedly broke his jaw. They said Chara is a game-time decision and that he would have to be cleared by doctors before he could play in Game 5. They said it will then be up to the player.
Hockey sense says the Bruins are not going to take their captain off the ice if he’s capable of being on it, and hockey sense says there’s no way Chara is going to sit if he has a say.
It was Brayden Schenn's Game 4 shot that bounced off Chara's stick and up into his face, splattering enough blood across the ice that it had to be chipped off before play resumed. But Chara returned to the bench later in that game, wearing a full shield over his face so he could be close to his teammates. He skated here at TD Garden on Thursday, then wrote out answers to questions about his concerns for his own safety. He said he isn’t worried about making a horrific injury worse by playing. He said he's no different than any other player who is willing to be uncomfortable on the ice if it means a chance to lift the Stanley Cup.
The Blues came as close as they could to saluting an opponent.
“He’s a good competitor,” Pat Maroon said. “He’s 42 years old and still playing hockey. He’s done a heck of a job being in this league, and he has a lot of respect around the league. Any player who is playing with a broken jaw, it says a lot about their character.”
“I don't think it surprises anyone,” Jay Bouwmeester said. “You look at his reputation, and the things he's been through over his career, he's a very well-respected guy. It doesn't surprise anybody."
"Good for them," David Perron said, sincerely. "We want to play their best team possible. He's one of their good players over there. We wouldn't be surprised if he played."
Chara's heroics will be the story of Game 5 unless the Blues force a change in the script. His presence on the ice will ignite this venue. He is the story, but this postseason, like every postseason, is filled with chapters of compromised players rushing back, results be damned.
Just look at the Blues.
Vince Dunn is back after taking a puck to the face earlier in the playoffs. Robert Thomas played through a wrist injury as long as possible before Boston’s Torey Krug knocked him into the press box. Carl Gunnarsson wore a wrist wrap during Thursday’s interviews. Ryan O’Reilly has played through closely-guarded pain for much of the postseason. And those are just the injuries we know about.
Matt Grzelcyk, the Bruins defenseman Oskar Sundqvist smashed into the boards in Game 2, was behind the microphone on the media room stage Thursday morning.
He was asked if he had been medically cleared to play.
“I’m not really sure,” he said. “Game-time decision. Obviously, if I’m in, I’ll be ready to play.”
At this time of the year, being ready is a rather relative term.