‘We don’t need to evaluate Z’: Bruce Cassidy talks line changes and the captain’s absence in China

Captain Zdeno Chara will not accompany nearly half of the Bruins' roster on their upcoming trip.

Zdeno Chara Boston Bruins
Captain Zdeno Chara will not be accompanying the Boston Bruins on their trip to China, where the team will play two exhibition games against the Calgary Flames. –Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Hockey’s largest wonder will wait to visit one of the seven wonders of the modern world. The Trencin Tower won’t yet stand on the Great Wall.

Zdeno Chara won’t make the Bruins’ upcoming trip to China, which will be filled with sightseeing and two exhibition games against the Calgary Flames. He’ll stay home, avoiding the rigors of a 12-hour flight on a 41-year-old body. Coach Bruce Cassidy has a few lineup questions to answer, but the type of minutes the captain plays is not one of them.

“We don’t need to evaluate Z,’’ Cassidy said Tuesday, before the Bruins’ annual charity golf tournament at The International.

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Chara was intrigued from a cultural standpoint, being a polyglot with varied interests, and understands first-hand the camaraderie created by a preseason trip abroad. The Bruins’ most recent Stanley Cup run, after all, began with a trip to Belfast and Prague.

Chara looks forward to hearing his teammates’ tales from China.

“Of course, it’s one of those I’d love to explore,’’ said Chara, who knows no Mandarin or Cantonese but reportedly speaks 5-9 languages with varying degrees of proficiency. “At this point, I’m kind of fine with staying back and focusing on having a good training camp and getting ready for the season.

“I can always enjoy more time in Boston. There’s plenty of time to do it later on.’’

For Cassidy, this will be a short and harried preseason. The China trip, which splits the Bruins in two from Sept. 11-20, will follow this weekend’s rookie camp in Buffalo.

Since his immediate focus will be on the games Sept. 15 in Shenzhen and Sept. 19 in Beijing, Cassidy will rely on reports from assistant Joe Sacco, who will coach the stateside squad, plus Providence coach Jay Leach and assistant Trent Whitfield. That trio will direct a series of home-and-home sets against Washington, Philadelphia, and Detroit.

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Chara will stay home with No. 1 center Patrice Bergeron and fourth-liner Noel Acciari, both recovering from postseason groin surgeries, and defenseman Torey Krug (broken left ankle in May).

Sean Kuraly and Danton Heinen, who served ambassadorships to China in July, will not return for a second trip.

“We’ve got a pretty good read on them,’’ Cassidy said.

Kuraly staying home means Cassidy will get a good look at other options for the third-line center spot: Rookies Jack Studnicka, Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson, and Trent Frederic will travel to China, as will new addition Chris Wagner.

David Pastrnak will attend, as will David Krejci and left wing Jake DeBrusk. Cassidy has the option — and may exercise it often this year — to use that trio and break up the powerful Bergeron-Pastrnak-Brad Marchand line.

“It’s an easy switch, whatever we decide,’’ Cassidy said, noting that Pastrnak seems comfortable with either Bergeron and Krejci as his centerman.

“I’m ready to play with both guys,’’ Pastrnak agreed. “I know what to expect from both guys. The only difference is Bergy and Marsh like to play up and down, Krech likes to play a little bit slower, likes to hang out on the puck and take his time. Both styles of play work for me.’’

Young players like Heinen, Anders Bjork, and Ryan Donato may make Cassidy’s decision easier, if one or more proves worthy of a top-six right wing spot. For the time being, he’ll see only Donato. Bjork, who had season-ending surgery on his left shoulder in February, will stay home with Heinen. The speedy Notre Dame grad will play at least two exhibition games, the goal being to be prepped for the Oct. 3 opener in Washington.

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