By: Mike Sullivan | Follow me on Twitter: @_MikeSullivan
Welcome to Day 33 until the regular season puck drop! I’m stoked to bring you to you today, Mr. Slovakia himself, Zdeno Chara. Brought to the Bruins on day one of the 2006 NHL Free Agency, Zdeno Chara turned the losing culture of the Boston Bruins organization around by injecting his life morals of discipline, hard work, sacrifice, and dedication into a team that so desperately needed it. He was immediately named Captain and served that role for 14 years before his exit in 2020. I credit Zdeno Chara for turning the Boston Bruins organization into a winning team for the last decade and a half.
During his tenure as a Boston Bruin, Zdeno Chara was elected six times to the NHL All-Star team. In addition, he won the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s best defenseman in 2009, collected a Mark Messier Leadership Award, and helped lead his team to a Stanley Cup Championship in 2011.
Standing at six-foot-nine inches, weighing in at 250 pounds, Zdeno Chara is a player who would impose his dominance on the opposing player night in and night out. For what he may have lacked in speed, he made up for it in size. His defensive stick work would prove to be an impenetrable tool that opposing forwards found challenging to work around. With his size, Chara was able to ragdoll opponents in the corners, use his body to defend the puck, reach in for a stick lift at 7 feet away and still manage to find a way to cover the slot. He was a defensive monster.
Even with his natural defensive abilities, he was still an offensive threat. With his whopping 108.8 mph slapshot, he was always a threat to let a nuke go from the point. (Rest In Peace, goalie, if he takes that shot in the slot area). With a cannon of a shot like that, the puck is always hard to track, read and control. So whenever you saw Big Z get his stick up and wait to tee off, you always held your breath and watched the twine of the net to see if the puck was going to rip through.
The Slovakian native was elected to the NHL All-Star game six times in his career, five with Boston and one with the Ottawa Senators. He was elected in 2003, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, and 2012. During those seasons, he totaled 260 points in 471 games with a +/- of +33. He also championed the NHL Hardest Shot Competition five times, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2011, and of course, in 2012, where he set the record at 108.8 mph. Ouch.
Chara claimed one Norris Trophy as the NHL’s Best Defensemen in 2009. He tallied a career-high of 19 goals and 31 assists for 50 points. A better than the average amount for a defenseman but couple those points with his outstanding and impenetrable defense, and you’ve got yourself a Norris Trophy Winner.
Who could ever forget the moment when Zdeno Chara was given a standing ovation and roaring cheer in the 2019 Stanley Cup Finals as he stood there, out on the blue line, broken jaw and all, soaking up the moment. A true, epic, legendary moment in Boston Bruin’s History.
Zdeno’s time spent in Boston was most definitely a cherished one. Sure, there were good times, rough times, and sure he’s moved on from Boston, but Zdeno Chara, regardless of how you look at it, will always be remembered as Bruin, and his hockey legacy will carry on forever in Boston.