NHL: Boston Bruins at Colorado Avalanche

Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara suffered a knee injury during Wednesday night’s loss to the Colorado Avalanche in Denver and will be out four to six weeks. The B’s defense corps is depleted with Chara, 41, heading up four regulars on the shelf.

If you didn’t already know it, there are TWO 41-year-olds leading teams in the Boston market.

And the other one suffered an injury the other night in Denver, which shows just how challenging it is to play a demanding pro sport at age 41.

Zdeno Chara, a workout freak who’s still the gigantic leader of the Bruins, had his left leg crumble under him against the boards. He was sent back to Boston to be examined further but the fear was he had a torn ACL.

The news, reported by Fluto Shinzawa in The Athletic early Saturday, was relatively good — Chara will miss only four to six weeks.

A torn ACL at age 41 can be career-ending — even though neither I nor anyone I know would bet against Chara coming back.

But 41 is 41.

Chara is 4½ months older than Tom Brady, who has suffered a serious injury only once in his brilliant career — 10 years ago.

The point here is basically to note the potential fragility of a 41-year-old leader. The difference here is that Brady is the Patriots’ best player. Chara’s skills have diminished some over the long career but his incredible reach and smarts allow him to get by. This knee injury may not allow that.

The Bruins were shut out for the fourth time this season Friday night at Dallas, but their effort was a good one without Chara and fellow D-men Charlie McAvoy, Brandon Carlo, Kevan Miller and John Moore. Tuukka Rask (2.21 goals against, .942 save percentage last five) played well in his return.

Good signing

I thought Steve Pearce might have earned himself a two-year deal after the way he finished the season with the Red Sox. But Friday, he agreed to come back for one year – and he and platoon mate Mitch Moreland will both be on affordable contracts for 2019.

Hometown discount? Remember, Pearce said he’s been a lifelong Red Sox fan, so why not stay where he’s comfortable, in a comfortable lineup with another chance to win? Good move for both sides.

Mookie Betts, newborn daughter in his arms, showed his usual class as he won the MVP the other night. This from @RedSoxNotes: “Mookie Betts is the first American League player ever to win the World Series and earn MVP, Gold Glove, and Silver Slugger Awards in the same season. The only NL player ever to do that is Hall of Fame third baseman Mike Schmidt (1980, Phillies).”

Statement game

The Celtics hosted the Jazz in the second half of a back-to-back Saturday night. And while you want to win every game, the big one for the locals was Friday night as Kyrie Irving went off for 43 points in the win over Toronto. A truly enjoyable basketball game.

Buried in the stats of the OT victory was a sort of coming out for Gordon Hayward — 15 points (only eight shots), five rebounds, five assists and four steals in 39 minutes.

Said head coach Brad Stevens: “We don’t need Gordon Hayward to score 30 points a game. We need him to be a jack of all trades. If he can score 15 points on eight shots like tonight, that’s great.”

Asked if he was surprised to be out there for the OT after hitting the tying free throws, Hayward said, “I was. I was wondering if they were going to take me out of the game at some point in time. Happy that he left me in, felt good to play that many minutes, it’s been such a long time since I’ve done that so it’s a good confidence builder.”

Irving went on one of his runs where he CANNOT be stopped, leading his team to evening the season series with the Raptors with a marvelous virtuoso effort.

Oops, he did it again

The slashing call against the B’s Brad Marchand on Friday night was marginal at best – even though he did manage to stab his stick at the back of Stars goalie Ben Bishop‘s leg. What the annoying pest/superstar did afterward was the latest in his long series of embarrassments – putting a towel over the end of his stick and waving the white flag. Boom – another 10 minutes, this time with his shorthanded team fighting for every inch of ice.

This wrestling garbage fashioned by this very talented player is getting VERY old. The Bruins could not afford to be without one of their best players for 12 minutes of this game — another childish tantrum selfishly hurting his team.

NESN’s Jack Edwards pointed out that with both teams decimated on defense, the 12 defensemen dressed for both teams -– including Dallas’ Gavin Bayreuther, the Canaan native who was one of three d-men making an NHL debut Friday (Boston’s Connor Clifton and Jakub Zboril were the other two) — had about the same cumulative time in the league as Chara alone.

Before the game, former Texas Rangers second baseman Ian Kinsler, who just won a World Series in Boston and is looking for work, dropped the ceremonial first puck.

Strange but true

Two of our favorites were in the middle of the news in the NBA this week.

JR Smith agreed to pay $600 to a fan after he tossed the fan’s cellphone into a New York City construction site in late July. He had been issued a desk ticket for misdemeanor criminal mischief as a result of the incident. Get this: the case will be sealed if Smith doesn’t get into trouble in the next six months. “He was issued a ticket, paid for the cell phone upgrade, and the case is being dismissed and sealed – this is a non-event,” said Alex Spiro, Smith’s attorney.

And our buddy Draymond Green, just as easy to despise as Smith, got into it with teammate Kevin Durant, accusing Durant of having one foot out the door with an eye toward his potential opt-out after the season. Green, who went at it with Durant on the court, was suspended for a game by the team and is fighting to keep the $120,000 he lost.

On the strange but true topic, University of Houston football coach Major Applewhite told injured star Ed Oliver he had no right to wear a jacket on the sidelines. The coach said only active players can wear coats to stay warm under team rules.

Oliver, an All-America defensive tackle who suffered a knee injury last month, screamed at the coach on the way off the field at halftime and did not return after the break. Applewhite said, “He got emotional, but he’s young and that’s what happens. And he’s not playing. That’s hard. That’s difficult. I don’t hold anything against anyone. I’m just going to visit with him about it. I love him. I want him to be a part of our team. I want him to be with our team.”

Oliver announced before the season he was leaving for the NFL and is projected among the top picks in the coming draft.

More strange? Detroit coach Matt Patricia had his Lions practice in the snow Thursday – with the next four games slated to be indoors. He then delivered an 891-word explanation. He said practicing indoors “affects swelling. And it really causes the body in different members of our team to have pain or joint swelling that will then cause them further delay in preparing for the game. Practicing outside has multiple benefits, provides different elements for us to prepare in and work through in the ground overall preparation of our team.”

Even more strange? The Miami Heat’s Hassan Whiteside bought an AR-15, complete with silencer and ammo for 50 grand and left it in the backseat of his Rolls Royce with the doors unlocked. Surprise! The gun was stolen and later recovered in a stolen car. Said Whiteside: “I have a license for the gun that was stolen from me over the summer. I should have secured it better and I’m glad it was recovered. It won’t happen again. It is now locked in a safe and I only use it at the gun range.”

And … great news!!! Baseball will allow creative footwear by the players next season.

Looking around

• Remember when the Flyers were known as the Broad Street Bullies? Well, through Friday there was only one team in the NHL without a fight this season: the Flyers. The Bruins were tied with the Rangers for the league lead, with seven.

• The Phillies are ready to spend and spend big in free agency. Owner John Middleton says he is ready to “be a little stupid” throwing his cash around.

• With Packers coach Mike McCarthy likely out if his team doesn’t make the playoffs, Pats offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels‘ name has already popped up as a potential successor. McDaniels teaming up with Aaron Rodgers sounds like fun.

SportsLine in Vegas has dropped the Patriots to fifth in odds to win the Super Bowl at 10/1. The Rams and Saints are both 11/4, while the Chiefs are 9/2 and Steelers 6/1.

• Baseball dying? MLB just signed a seven-year extension with Fox television for a mere $5.1 billion.

Jimmy Butler starred and felt love in his first home game with the Sixers Friday night — and Philly is 29-1 in its last 30 regular season home games. The last loss was Jan. 11 to the Celtics, who also went 1-1 at Wells Fargo in the playoffs.

• D-III Grinnell hit an NCAA men’s basketball record 42 3-pointers — on 88 tries — the other night. The Pioneers blasted Emmaus 164-107.

• The Yankees’ interest in Manny Machado appears lukewarm, but Dellin Betances says, “I think he’ll put us over the top. We were short last year. Things could have gone our way, but they didn’t. ... Our lineup is already impactful, so adding a guy like that would be pretty crazy.”

• More DIII: Earlham in Richmond, Ind., 70-6 losers last Saturday to Rose Hulman to extend its football losing streak to 53 games, has canceled next season, but will return in 2020.{/li}

Jim Boeheim‘s son is playing for the longtime men’s basketball head coach at Syracuse (how old am I? I saw the elder Boeheim play for Syracuse, alongside Dave Bing, at the old Madison Square Garden) – and the kid’s name was spelled wrong on his jerset – BOHEIM – at MSG the other night. To make the night even worse for the family, UConn upset the No. 17 Orange as head coach Danny Hurley scored his first big win for the Huskies.

Blake Snell won the Cy Young – and then got word he was being drug tested the next day. “how random do we think this drug test is!?” he tweeted, with three laughing emojis following.

• Betts scored 129 runs and was not thrown out at home all season.

• Ottawa goalie Craig Anderson stopped TWO penalty shots in the third period and the Senators the Red Wings 2-1 the other night.

• The Angels’ Mike Trout now leads all baseball players in Top 4 MVP finishes with seven, and he’s just 27 years old.

• From Brian Hoch of MLB.com: “(Yankees relievers) David Robertson is representing himself this offseason. He has spoken to (Yankees GM) Brian Cashman, who said the righty would prefer to pitch for a team near his Rhode Island home. (That does include New York).”

Nathan Eovaldi, who we see as a must re-sign for Boston, got a clean bill of health from Dr. Christopher Ahmad, who told NBC Sports Boston’s Evan Drellich: “To me, he’s over Tommy John surgery and he’s over revision Tommy John surgery. And I would consider him in the same category of somebody who has a healthy arm, and whatever worry I have about that player, I have the same or less for Nate.”

Rajon Rondo had surgery on his broken hand and is expected to miss 3-5 weeks for the Lakers, who are already surprising people with that new guy leading the way.

• We give you Irving on things changing for the Celtics with Butler going to Philly, in terms of an increased sense of urgency: “Who cares, honestly? It’s still so early, man.”

• Finally, the Fenway experience just went up 2.5 percent after the latest ticket increase. Good luck with that!

Mike Shalin covers Boston pro sports for the New Hampshire Union Leader and New Hampshire Sunday News. His email address is shalinmike@yahoo.com.