The Longevity of Bruins Zdeno Chara

4 - Boston Bruins Captain Zdeno Chara Talks Ice Hockey(Photo Credits: Boston Common)

By: Liz Rizzo | Follow me on Twitter @pastagrl88

Beast. Thy name is Chara. To play hockey at the NHL level, it takes not only pure physicality but having the right mentality to overcome obstacles (namely injuries). This sport is tough, especially for a fresh-faced, skinny 18-year-old. Then you have someone like Bruins Captain Zdeno Chara, a wondrous specimen who, at age 41, continues to astound those that play around him.

News hit early Monday morning when head coach Bruce Cassidy announced that Chara and teammate Patrice Bergeron have started to skate on their own. The update was welcomed among fans given the injuries the team is currently facing. While the coaching staff continues to emphasize the development of its young players, the question raised is how long can we expect someone like Chara to continue to play at a high level?  Kinda hard to tell, just look at who we’re talking about.

BEAST MODE

If you don’t follow Chara on his social media, you may want to take a look at his recent Instagram posts. They range from family adventures to crazy workouts, chronicling his recent journey in returning to the Bruin lineup. In case you missed it, here’s his latest rehab video:

View this post on Instagram

It’s been hard not to play and help the boys in games past 3 weeks,but with great work and help from our entire Bruins Medical and Rehabilitation staff we are making progress every day .Eager to be back at full strength and playing. Proud of my teammates “LETS GO BRUINS!” #bruins #nhlbruins #proud #of #myteammates #gettingbackontrack video @penzy24_7 * * * Sledovať a nehrať zápasy s chlapcami nie je ľahké,ale so starostlivosťou Bruins Doktorov a všetkých Fyzioterapeutov za posledné 3 týždne sa cítim lepšie a nemôžem sa dočkať byť opäť v plnej sile a hrať . Som hrdý na svojich spoluhráčov. “Lets go Bruins “ #hrdy #na #mojich#spoluhracov#makam#na #ceste#spat

A post shared by Zdeno Chara (@zeechara33) on

Not too bad for someone who’s about to turn 42 this year. Aside from the injury he sustained a few weeks ago, there are no signs of slowing down.  Now in his 13th season with the Black and Gold, Chara continues to improve his game. According to Coach Bruce Cassidy, there’s no other blue-liner that’s tougher than the 41-year-old Slovak native.

“He’s one of our, if not our best defensemen… Zee’s got a lot of hockey left in him. I know that for a fact. He trains harder than anybody I know. His conditioning is through the roof. He’s trying to stay current with the game and the way it’s played and working on his puck skills and getting back on pucks.

Those little things that the average person doesn’t see every night that he’s working on, probably three or four games after we lost out.  He wants to have his legacy run longer than just one or more year. I wouldn’t put it past him to play four or five more years in this league.”

(Photo Credits: Winslow Towson/AP)

Whether it’s switching to a plant-based diet or revving up his workout routine, Chara will undoubtedly do whatever it takes to skate one more time with the Stanley Cup. For many athletes, there’s an understanding that the older you get the smaller that window of opportunity stays open. Chara has gone beyond that and for someone his size, all 6-foot-9 of him, it’s somewhat astounding what he can still do with his body.  As the son of an Olympic Greco-Roman wrestler, finding the drive to work hard was instilled from an early age:

“My father would say, ‘If you do something, do it right. Don’t do it halfway. Don’t be average.’ No one gave me much of a chance because of my height, but my dad told me, if I could master the basics of gymnastics and acrobatics, I could master hockey as well, because it’s all about being mobile, being able to make use of my explosive power in combination with my height.”

Now nearing 42-years-old, playing an intense sport whose focus is speed and footwork, Chara has to keep up with men half his age and the level of competitiveness has not wavered. In his 20 or more years in the league, his workouts have increased and during offseason, you’ll find him cycling roads that have been part of the Tour De France. Want to train like Chara? Be prepared to write everything down in a journal. The Bruins captain has years of data detailing every workout session:

“I’m a thinker. I like to do the work of preparation. When I start doing things, I like to already have a purpose…You can easily figure out patterns of preparation. It’s like a big puzzle.”

chara_2.jpg(Photo Credits: Simon Simard/WSJ)

If you’re looking to have a physique like Chara, make sure you plan on spending four to six hours at the gym. A workout with the captain means a two-hour strengthening session, coordination, video reviews and ice time. His recovery regimen includes massage and time in the cold tub.  To improve flexibility and range-of-motion, Chara spends time stretching with wrestling-inspired movements.  Another interesting tidbit? He’ll squeeze in workouts after games during the regular season.

EAT YOUR VEGGIES

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Plant-based: Since I started to be open about my decision to go plant-based I have been asked many questions: Why change your diet? Are you trying to lose weight? Why now? You don’t like the taste of meat, milk or cheese anymore? Are you sick? It’s simple: I believe I can be happier, healthier and more efficient than before. I can also tell how much it helps my performance on the ice. It all started early summer 2017 when I looked back at the year we had and how I wanted to get better physically and mentally for the upcoming season. That’s my goal before every season. To be better. The mental part didn’t worry me. I knew how much I enjoy working hard and how much I love the game. But with attention to details I really felt there was room to improve my nutrition. I thought I was eating healthy until I met a friend of mine and he told me about plant based. After only 6 months I can already feel how much positive change it had on my mind and my body. I will still have some fish every now and then, but I am on an exciting journey that altered my perspective on performance, recovery and energy. It is beautiful that we can all find our own, unique and sustainable equilibrium. I’m still passionately learning about the enhancement of athletic performance and the healing benefits of a plant based diet and I will happily share with my growing audience. Big Zee 🌱🍏 ————————————————————————— Odkedy som zacal otvorene hovorit o rozhodnuti prejst na rastlinnu stravu, zacal som dostavat otazky: Preco menis stravu? Chces schudnut? Uz Ti nechuti mlieko, mäso a syry? Necitis sa dobre? Jednoducho: Myslim, ze mozem byt stastnejsi a zdravsi ako predtym. Vnimam, ako mi to pomaha pri vykonoch na lade. Zacalo to v lete 2017, ked som sa obzrel na uplynuly rok a chcel sa zlepsit fyzicky aj mentalne pred dalsou sezonou. Mentalna stranka ma neznepokojovala. Vedel som ako velmi si uzivam tvrdu pracu a ako milujem tento sport. Ale ako detailista som citil, ze mozem zlepsit svoju stravu. Myslel som si, ze som jedaval zdravo, az kym som nestretol jedneho kamarata, ktory mi povedal viac o rastlinnej strave. Po iba 6 mesiacoch citim pozitivnu zmenu pre moje telo aj mysel.

A post shared by Zdeno Chara (@zeechara33) on

Anyone that works out (whether you’re a pro or amateur) knows diet is important in order to keep your body in peak physical condition. And for someone as meticulous as Chara,  a shift in his eating habits makes complete sense, as evident in the above Instagram post.

Insane workouts, a new diet with a positive outlook on life, Chara seems invincible (for now).  Eventually, the body will stop responding and injuries will be more of an occurrence. He’ll continue to train to prevent further damage and while there is no definite timetable as to when he’ll return to the lineup, the Bruins are ready for their Captain to return.  Will he reach Gordie Howe status when he retires? Time will only tell and Chara isn’t ready to hang up his skates any time soon.

“I felt as you get older, you’re trying to find ways to improve your well-being, functioning, and energy level. Everything you hear that people are losing as you get older, I want to be a step ahead of that.”

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