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Zdeno Chara to carry Slovakian flag at Olympic opening ceremonies

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Zdeno Chara will miss the Boston Bruins’ contest on Feb. 8 against the Ottawa Senators. No he is not injured, nor is he suspended. The reason is much more patriotic.

His native Slovakia announced Thursday that they have selected Chara to be their flag bearer for the opening ceremonies of the Olympics (to be held on Feb. 7).

The Olympic men’s hockey tournament does not begin until Feb. 12; but the Bruins will allow their captain to leave early for Sochi, Russia in order to participate in the ceremony.

“When you look at what Z has done for this club, I think it’s an easy decision to make,” said Bruins coach Claude Julien. “You’re carrying your country’s flag at the Olympics. Even if he misses a game and maybe two, I think that’s the least we can do for a guy who’s given us so much since he’s been here.”

This will mark the third Olympic appearance for Chara, who is also captain of the Slovakian team (he was also captain of the 2010 team). He will become the fourth hockey player to carry the flag for Slovakia; joining Peter Stastny (1994), Robert Petrovicky (2002) and Zigmund Palffy (2010).