For Zdeno Chara, Olympic honor touches home

Zdeno Chara will carry the flag for Slovakia in Sochi.
Zdeno Chara will carry the flag for Slovakia in Sochi.JIM DAVIS/GLOBE STAFF/FILE 2013

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Zdeno Chara, Bruins captain and proud son of Slovakia, grew up in Trencin when his country was one of the Soviet Union’s satellite states. As a boy in grade school, he had to learn to speak Russian, pledge allegiance to all things Lenin, and otherwise accept the social tenets and restrictions of Communist rule.

“The bad side of it,’’ recalled Chara, 36, “you couldn’t do certain things. You always had to follow the orders of other people above, or country above. But you know, it is what it is, and it’s behind us. So . . .’’

Chara, a middle schooler when Russia vacated its decades-long control of Czechoslovakia in the late 1980s, next month will carry the red-white-and-blue Slovakian flag into Sochi, Russia, home of this year’s Winter Olympic Games. The Slovaks approached him in November about leading them into the Games, and though he initially debated it because it would mean missing a game or two with the Bruins, he eagerly accepted after gaining the full endorsement of club management and team owner Jeremy Jacobs.

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