Boston — The Bruins will spend the next 4-6 weeks trying to fill the hole left by an injury to the tallest player in NHL history.
Defenseman Zdeno Chara tore the posterior cruciate ligament in his left knee but will not need surgery, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said.
The team called up two minor-league defensemen Friday to replace the 6-foot-9 Chara, the 2009 Norris Trophy winner and plays more minutes than any other Bruins skater.
“It’s obviously a blow. He’s one of the premier defensemen in the league,” Chiarelli said. “But I’d rather have it four to six weeks than four to six months.”
Chara left Thursday night’s game against the Islanders in the first period, one shift after a collision with New York forward John Tavares. He did not appear injured at the time, but his teammates knew it was serious when one of the toughest players on the team left the bench.
“When he’s out, he’s out,” goalie Tuukka Rask said after Friday’s practice. “He’s played through a lot of stuff.”
A third-round pick of the Islanders in 1996, Chara came to Boston as a free agent a decade later after establishing himself as one of the NHL’s best players. As the No. 1 Bruins defenseman, he uses his long reach to stop opposing attacks — usually matched up against the other team’s top forward.
Chara led the Bruins to the NHL title in 2011 — with Chara, as the team’s captain, receiving the Stanley Cup — and back to the Finals two years later. Last season, the team won the Presidents’ Trophy for the most regular-season points before losing in the second round to the Canadiens. They defeated the Red Wings in the first round.
“He’s just such a dominant player,” fellow defenseman Dennis Seidenberg said. “He’s a real treat to have on your team. You get spoiled on the ice, and you don’t really appreciate it until he’s gone.”
Already without defenseman Kevan Miller, the Bruins lost 3-2 on Thursday night to fall below .500 and into a four-way tie for fifth place in the East.
But coach Claude Julien pointed to the third period, when Boston dominated New York, as proof the team can manage without Chara.
“If we’ve become that bad of a team because of one player, we weren’t that good of a team,” he said. “I’d like to think we’re better than that.”
The team recalled defensemen Joe Morrow and Zach Trotman from Providence of the American Hockey League. Morrow has one goal and one assist in five AHL games this season. Trotman played two games in Boston last season and has one assist with Providence this year.
“It will take everyone to fill that void,” forward Chris Kelly said. “It’s not just the defense that needs to defend. It’s five men working together in all three zones.”
The Blue Jackets activated forward Sonny Milano off the injured non-roster list and assigned him to the Ontario Hockey League’s Plymouth Whalers.
Milano sustained a facial fracture at the NHL Prospects Tournament in September.
The 18-year-old spent the past two seasons with the United States National Team Development Program in Ann Arbor. Last season, he had 24 goals and 48 assists in 50 games played for the program’s junior team.
The Senators, Canadiens and Maple Leafs will hold coordinated tributes Saturday to honor the Canadian soldiers who lost their lives during shootings this week.
A gunman killed a soldier at Ottawa’s war memorial Wednesday then stormed Parliament before being shot dead.
On Monday, a soldier was killed when a man drove a car into him at a federal building near Montreal.