Even at 43, Zdeno Chara figured he still could log plenty of ice time. That’s why he left the Boston Bruins after 14 years to sign with the Washington Capitols in December. AP Photo/Nick Wass

The Washington Capitals will probably win the Stanley Cup.

Not because they beat the Bruins 4-3 in overtime Saturday night, keeping them atop the MassMutual East Division standings. (Welcome to 2021, where even the division names remind you that nothing is normal.)

Not because they took the ice for Monday night’s rematch with Boston as one of two teams in the NHL that had yet to lose a game in regulation.

This bold prediction is simply because that’s the way things are going in Boston. An icon leaves town and is immediately sized for a championship ring.

As you may have heard, Tom Brady will be playing in his 10th Super Bowl, this time as quarterback of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, this Sunday. That’s more than twice as many Super Bowl starts as any other quarterback in NFL history. It’s a home game for the Bucs, the first time in league history that the host plays in the Super Bowl.

It’s why the Buccaneers signed Brady last March after the quarterback announced he was leaving the Patriots. He wanted to prove he still had something in the tank. Now he’s one win away from adding to the record he already holds for most Super Bowl victories by a quarterback in history (six and counting.)

It’s the same reason Zdeno Chara left Boston. The Bruins were concerned the 43-year old defensemen would have difficulty keeping up with the frenetic pace of a season that was condensed by a pandemic-induced late start. They thought he would need time off and were willing to baby him along the way.

Chara would have none of it. That’s why he was playing against the Bruins for the first time in nearly 15 years on Saturday night, logging 20:54 of ice time and looking like a defenseman some 20 years younger than his actual age.

Mookie Betts didn’t choose to leave Boston. He was traded to Dodgers last February, and soon won a championship in his first season with L.A. The Red Sox felt he would leave after the 2020 season when he reached free agency, and didn’t want to be stuck losing a superstar and getting nothing in return.

So the Sox got Alex Verdugo, one of the few bright spots in a dismal season, and two minor leaguers who hope to earn the spot on the major league team in the not-too-distant future.

And we got to watch Betts score the winning run in the World Series-clinching Game 6 victory for the Dodgers, adding a 434-foot homer two innings later to ensure the title.

Betts went from being a local hero to a champion with another team in eight months.

Brady went from being the face of the Patriots franchise to being the savior of Tampa Bay in 10 months.

It’s been just over a month since Chara signed with the Capitals. Is there any reason to doubt he will be leading them back to the Stanley Cup finals?

No one wants to hear New Englanders complain about not winning. We’re still in the Golden Age, with 12 titles in the last 20 years. But some of the key players on those championship teams are finishing their careers elsewhere. And playing large roles in keeping Boston from adding to its trophy collection.

Tom Caron is a studio host for Red Sox broadcasts on NESN. His column runs on Tuesdays in the Portland Press Herald.


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