Boston Bruins veteran defenseman Zdeno Chara, who reportedly has a broken jaw, started Thursday night’s Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final after he was medically cleared to play.
Chara joined his teammates for pregame warmups in full uniform wearing a face shield. He drew a roar from the home crowd as he was introduced.
Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said earlier Thursday that if the medical staff cleared Chara, who was injured in Game 4, the player could decide his own status.
“The doctor has to give him the green light, then it’ll be his call. If the doctor doesn’t, then he has no say in the matter,” Cassidy said.
Chara was injured Monday night when a shot from the St. Louis Blues’ Brayden Schenn deflected off Chara’s stick and hit him in the face.
The 42-year-old skated Thursday morning in the optional pre-game skate wearing the face shield.
NHL public relations confirmed to reporters during the day that Chara was unable to speak — or even open his mouth. He provided answers to reporters’ questions in writing.
When asked about the challenge of skating with this injury, he responded:
“At this time of the playoffs, everyone has injuries and there are challenges that you have to overcome to play. I’m no different than any player on either team.”
The Bruins remained without defenseman Matt Grzelcyk, who has been in the concussion protocol since Game 2. The team activated Steven Kampfer and decided to use seven defensemen and 11 forwards rather than going with the typical lineup of six defensemen and 12 forwards.
The best-of-seven series returned to Boston for Game 5 with the series tied at 2-2.
—Field Level Media