All good things must come to an end. That includes the hockey world and seeing legendary players hang up their skates and walk away from the game. Defencemen Zdeno Chara has officially retired from playing in the NHL, finishing his career where it all began. The long time defencemen is the all-time leader in games played by an NHL defenceman. Even though he finished his career with the New York Islanders, he is most known for his time with the Boston Bruins and his impact on the franchise. Chara will sign a one-day contract to retire as a Bruin.
Zdeno Chara Retires
Congratulations Zdeno Chara for setting the NHL record for the most games played by a defenseman! 👏
Truly a remarkable achievement and a testament to your dedication to the game. pic.twitter.com/P5yc7bbhI3
— NHL (@NHL) February 25, 2022
The Franchise Defencemen
The Boston Bruins would use that available cap space to bring in a franchise cornerstone piece that would alter the franchise forever. On July 1, 2006, Zdeno Chara would sign with the Boston Bruins in free agency. The team would then make him the captain. Like all great Bruins teams of the past, they would be building from the back end out.
The Big Bad Bruins
After locking in the franchise defencemen, a new era of Boston Bruins hockey followed. On July 1, 2006, the Bruins signed centre Marc Savard to a long-term deal. The team also boasted young talent at the time in Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, Milan Lucic, and even bringing 2007 Stanley Cup Champion Shawn Thornton over from the Ducks. The leadership and the foundation were laid, and it all started with Zdeno Chara. His signing not only altered the franchise but helped bring players to want to play in Boston.
After the big signing, the Bruins we’re just a building block. But playoff success was almost immediate. The team became an instant contender and would be for over a decade while Chara was in the fold. The original six franchise went from a team nobody wanted to watch to a playoff contender that planned on winning the cup. The team first made the playoffs in 2008-09, but lost in the first round. The Bruins would go on to lose in the second round in 2009 and 2010, where the epic collapse to the Philadelphia Flyers happened.
The Bruins would then make it to the Stanley Cup Final in 2011. Defencemen Zdeno Chara would hoist the trophy over his head and bring the Stanley Cup Back to Boston. For the first time in 39 years, the Boston Bruins were champions.
The Bruins would make the finals again in 2013 but fall short. And after missing the postseason for two straight years, the Bruins would return to the finals again in 2019 and fall short in a crushing Game 7 loss.
All in all, Zdeno Chara restored the Bruins franchise. He brought the team to being a perrenial contender and bringing a championship back to Boston. The Bruins made the playoffs 10 years during his tenure, and without him signing, who knows where the Bruins would have ended up.
Zdeno Chara Career
Zdeno Chara was one of the toughest players to play against. Standing at 6’9 and weighing 250 pounds, he was as tough as they come. His size and reach and physicality made him a superb talent.
Originally Drafted in the third round in the 1996 draft by the New York Islanders, he has spent his time elsewhere. Chara has also played with the Ottawa Senators, Boston Bruins, Washington Capitals, and finishing with the Islanders.
In 1,680 games played, he has scored 209 goals, 471 assists, and 680 points. He would also finish with a career plus/minus +300 and 2,085 penalty minutes. In 200 games played in the playoffs, he would tally 70 points in 200 games.
The Defencemen Awards
February 28, 2009- scored his 100th goal
June 18, 2009-wins Norris Trophy after 50 point season
June 15, 2011- captains Bruins to Stanley Cup victory
2010-2011- Mark Messier leadership award winner
January 28/29-2012- sets record for fastest shot. Sets the record with a 108.8 mph slap shot.
June 12, 2019- played in his 14th Game 7. Most in playoff history
November 5, 2019- reached 1,500 games played in Montreal
January 13, 2020- played in 1,000 games with the Boston Bruins
Zdeno Chara will go down as a Boston Bruins great and one of the better defencemen in that time period. He restored the Bruins franchise and helped deliver a Stanley Cup. An original six franchise starved for a contender finally got one. Number 33 will be hanging in the rafters one day, and Zdeno Chara is an all-time great Boston Bruin.