October 2, 2012

Bruins' stars Bergeron, Chara shipping overseas

By Jesse Connolly

The European exodus continues.

Looks like (insert names of Bruins here) will have some company overseas.

And another one's gone, and another one's gone, another one crossed the pond. 

OK, I'll stop. As you've probably figured out by now, coming up with new, crafty ways to open a story about the umpteenth NHLer to sign in Europe has become quite a chore. Zdeno Chara went and put me in that predicament this afternoon, as the Bruins' captain signed on with Lev Praha -- which, like every other overseas club, has an alternate name: the Prague Lions.

The 6-foot-9 defenseman was rumored to be close to joining Slovan Bratislava in the days immediately following the CBA's expiration. Instead, he'll suit up for a squad entering its first season of play in the Kontinental Hockey League.

A finalist for the Norris Trophy in each of the past two seasons, Chara was crowned the league's best blueliner for the 2008-09 campaign. He had a career-high 52 points for the B's in 2011-12.

"He has friends there, and it's within hours of his home in Slovakia and it's a great hockey city," Chara's agent, Matt Keator, told USA Today.

Patrice packing his bags

In a development that transpired seconds before submitting the story above, it was reported that B's center Patrice Bergeron has also made up his mind and will join HC Lugano. The Swiss club issued an official press release to declare the star forward's looming arrival.

There was a strange note in the release -- per the translation, of course -- that says something along the lines of the club relying on funds from outside the organization to lure him over:

The employment Bergeron has been possible thanks to funding from people outside the organization Hockey Club Lugano that Juventus held in this time of great enthusiasm to warmly thank for the success of the operation.

Kind of bizarre, no? According to Lugano, the reigning Selke Trophy winner will be coming to town in the next few days. Bergeron, 27, finished second on the B's with 64 points last season. During the 2004-05 lockout, he played for Providence in the American Hockey League.

Jesse Connolly can be reached at jconnolly@hockeyjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JesseNEHJ.