It’s going to be a big night for “Big Z” at the TD Garden this Fall when the Boston Bruins honor their former captain with a ceremonial puck drop.
The date to mark on your ’22-’23 Bruins calendar for the momentous Zdeno Chara occasion and celebration? Saturday, October 22!
Fittingly, it should be a Wild night for fans of the hometown team and its recently retired leader. And not just because Minnesota’s in town for the festivity-filled affair!
That’s because everyone in attendance loves to go nuts when No. 33 takes the ice — even if his size CA 11.5 skates are hung up this time around and there’s a red carpet rolled out to walk down.
Not surprisingly, the B’s organization did just that for Chara when they recently signed him to a “One-Day Contract” so he could officially retire, after a tremendous 24 seasons in the NHL (14 with the Bruins), as a member of the Black N’ Gold.
As we all know and like to remind fellow B’s aficionados, Chara –alongside Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci & Brad Marchand (pictured above) –led the Bruins to three Stanley Cup Finals appearances during his timely tenure, getting to hoist the coveted Cup high overhead himself in 2011 when Boston bested the Vancouver Canucks in seven games.
He had this to say during his one-day contract signing press conference alongside Don Sweeney and Cam Neely, not only about his illustrious Bruins’ career, but also his future and the fans expected at “Zdeno Chara Night” in TD Garden:
“I would like to thank the organization for the privilege and opportunity to retire as a Boston Bruin. It was very challenging to play with my size and height from an early age… this moment is surreal. The fans, especially in a city like a Boston… I will miss you the most… for your support, your passion and love.”Zdeno chara
What’s not to love about that? Or about Chara’s distinguished career (we forget sometimes he also played for the New York Islanders [twice], Ottawa Senators and Washington Capitals) and the impressive numbers he put up over the past quarter of a century on the ice.
To wit: Chara was awarded the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s best defenseman in 2008-09, after tallying a career-high 19 goals and 31 assists in 80 games with Boston.
He was also the recipient of the prestigious Mark Messier Leadership Award in 2010-11 for his exemplary leadership both on and off the ice — something many around New England can attest to thanks to his philanthropic work with the B’s “PJ Drive” and “Thanksgiving Pie Delivery” efforts. Not to mention his many visits to local hospitals over the holidays to bring smiles to those in need.
As an All-Star, Chara was named to the NHL First Team three times (2003-04, 2008-09, 2013-14), the Second All-Star Team four times (2005-06, 2007-08, 2010-11, 2011-12), and was selected to play in the NHL All-Star Game six times (2002-03, 2006-07, 2007-08, 2008-09, 2010-11, 2011-12), with perhaps his most impressive feat coming when he bested former Bruin Al Iafrate’s “Hardest Shot Record!”
In his 14 seasons with the Black N’ Gold, Chara ranked first among the team in games played (1,023), plus-minus rating (+240), penalty minutes (1,055), and time on ice per game (24:29).
He finished his career in Boston with 148 goals and 333 assists for 481 points and his playoff career with totals of 18 goals and 52 assists for 70 points in 200 postseason games. Fun fact: “Big Z” also ranks first in the NHL with 14 career Game 7 appearances.
For his next appearance, make sure you’re at TD Garden on Saturday, October 22nd for that special ceremonial puck drop. Mark it on your calendar, indeed!