Leaving Ottawa wasn't easy for Zdeno Chara ... the tears streaming down his face were evidence of that.
The former Senators' defenceman, who will be introduced by the Bruins today, admitted he cried when he said goodbye to his Ottawa friends.
Speaking in an exclusive interview with the Sun yesterday before a flight to Boston, Chara said he's excited about joining the Bruins, but disappointed to leave the Senators.
"When it was over I was sad and I had tears in my eyes," said Chara. "But it's a decision. You have to swallow hard and just deal with it."
Chara, 28, who signed a five-year, $37.5-million (all figures US) deal with the Bruins, admitted he was hopeful the Senators would pursue him more.
"I thought Ottawa would be really aggressive. In the last nine days before July 1, we never received a phone call," said Chara. "Myself and (agent) Matt (Keator) were just sitting there and making all the calls.
"We told them, 'Let's talk and let's negotiate.' They said: 'Six million, you sign it or we're going to go the other way.' They did.
"They chose Wade (Redden). He's an unbelievable player and a great guy. He's a good leader and they made the right decision. They are saying that Wade took less to stay in Ottawa, but we both got offered $6 million and he didn't take less because he took $6.5 million."
Chara believes the Senators just hit a point where they didn't feel they could afford to keep him.
"I believe they thought I was going to get an offer around $6 million and then I was going to call them to say I wanted to come back," said Chara. "We had 23 teams contacting us. We had 15 teams make offers and seven teams over $7 million (San Jose, Los Angeles, Edmonton, Washington, Toronto, New York Rangers and New Jersey).
"I was willing to take less to stay in Ottawa. I told them that right from the get-go, I am not here to take the maximum money. I'm not here to take the most expensive contract and I'm here to win."
Chara hopes Ottawa fans understand his move to Boston.
"I want to thank all the fans here because they've been great and very supportive," said Chara. "I love this city and I will always come back. I just hope that the fans respect my decision and they are not going to boo me. I don't think I deserve it. I always gave my best for this team. It wasn't the money or that I wanted to run away. I just had to move on."