Chara and his Boston Bruins lost the Stanley Cup Final to Hossa and his Chicago Blackhawks in six emotional and well-played games. The end was stunning, as the Blackhawks scored two goals in 17 seconds to come from one goal back in the closing stages of the third period to win their second title in four seasons.
If the Bruins could have held the Blackhawks down over the final 1:16 of the game, they would have forced a Game 7.
But it was not to be. Chara, in large part, played a key role in the Blackhawks' ability to rally from a 2-1 deficit and win the final three games of the series.
The Blackhawks decided to attack Chara and defense partner Dennis Seidenberg over the final three games, and the strategy had much to do with the Blackhawks' championship run. Chara was minus-six in those last three games.
Two months later, the loss still hurts Bruins fans and a number of Chara's teammates.
So what was Chara doing at the party, posing for a picture with Hossa and the Stanley Cup in Slovakia?
He was being a gentleman, an excellent sport and friend to another top pro whom he has known for decades. It's called sportsmanship and class. Chara has both characteristics, and he doesn't have to apologize to anyone.
He took the Stanley Cup Final loss as hard as any Bruins player, but he also knows that the world did not stop spinning on its axis because the Bruins lost. The 2013-14 season will be here in a matter of weeks, as training camps open in early September. Another opportunity beckons.
Chara will once again anchor the Bruins defense. The huge defenseman is the biggest player in the NHL at 6'9" and 255 pounds. He delivers crunching hits all over the ice, and he pounds his slap shot at speeds of 108 miles per hour.
However, he is not a one-dimensional behemoth who can't recognize that his failing also happened to be his friend's Everest moment.
Joe Haggerty of ComcastSportsNetNE, one of the sharpest Bruins observers, wrote that Chara should "know better" than to pose for such a picture.
Is there any reason why Chara shouldn't celebrate the success of his friend, neighbor and countryman? Does it diminish the job that Chara has done for the Bruins or anything he has done in his hockey career?
Of course not. There are so many episodes of athletes behaving badly, selfishly and boorishly. He faced his own pain and selflessly congratulated Hossa. That's what friends do for one another.
Those who don't realize that are missing the point of competitive sports. Think about what each of the Blackhawks and Bruins went through this spring. They had to fight their guts out to go through round after round of the playoffs.
The Blackhawks were good enough to come away with the championship under the most difficult of circumstances. They were tested by a team that was nearly as good, nearly as tough and wanted it just as much.
Chicago was just a little bit better.
The Blackhawks wouldn't know how good they were if they had not been pushed so hard by the Bruins. The losing team validated the winner, forcing them to dig deep to show what they had inside.
That's what competition is all about. You really don't know how good you are until you are pushed to the limit. The two finalists are bonded forever. They needed each other.
Chara understands just how much it meant, and he helped validate his future teammate's moment of glory. (The two will play key roles on Slovakia's Olympic hockey team next winter.)
Stand up and applaud Chara for his class and dignity. Save the ridicule for someone who deserves it.
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