By: Gayle Troiani | Follow me on Twitter @LadyBruinsFan
Every Bruins fan has their favorite memory of legend Zdeno Chara. Whether it was watching the former captain raise the Stanley Cup in 2011, playing in game 5 of the 2019 Stanley Cup Final with his jaw wired shut, or one of his thunderous hits against an opposing player there are plenty of moments to choose from but for me, my favorite memory was not on a highlight reel, it was a more personal event that highlighted the type of man he is, not just the hockey player.
Let me paint a picture. It was September 17, 2006, the New Jersey Devils had moved their AHL affiliate to Lowell, Massachusettes, and they were hosting the Boston Bruins for the first preseason game of the 2006-2007 NHL season at the Tsongas Arena. If you have ever covered a game at that arena, you know the press box is not very big, and for this particular game, there were reports from not only the local newspapers but also from New Jersey, the NHL itself, and many other news outlets. On top of that, scouts, executives, and coaches needed to have a place to watch the game from.
I was there; my editor tasked me to write a story about the atmosphere, the fans, and the fact that New Jersey was the home team, not the Bruins. So I was one of many reporters that sat at a table with Don Sweeney, Director of Player Development for the Bruins at the time, and other Bruins executives in the concourse above the ice instead of in the press box.
The Devils, like the Bruins, dressed a mixture of veteran and young players. The difference was the entire Boston training camp roster made the 30-mile trip to Lowell, while some New Jersey players that weren’t playing didn’t make the trip.
So, I was jotting down notes of the Bruins players not dressed; Glen Murray, Marc Savard, and Tim Thomas were the first three I noticed. They were sitting in the stands in the section directly below me. Then, I saw a man approaching the lone empty seat at the table. I looked up, and it was none other than Zdeno Chara.
Sweeney offered the seat to Chara, and I even offered to move to another section, but he smiled and said, “No, thank you. I need to sit with my teammates.” I watched in awe as the 6-foot-9 defenseman walked down the concrete aisle and wedged himself into the small, compact seat with the rest of the team.
It was a vision seeing Chara sitting foor three periods and intermissions with his knees implanted in his chest. I felt for him, it had to be so uncomfortable, but he didn’t budge. He was a true leader even back then.
Always courteous, Chara was nice enough to sit down when I interviewed him in 2007 at the now-defunct Bruins Wives Carnival. It would have been quite the sight seeing me try to look up to the man that is more than a foot taller than me.
Aside from the hockey memories, Chara was very involved in the community during his tenure in Boston by delivering pies to the Pine Street Inn on Thanksgiving, leading the way on the PJ Drive and visiting the Boston Children’s Hospital dressed up as Felonious Gru.
His stats are what will lead him to the Hall of Fame and his leadership on and off the ice is why his number will be raised to the rafters in the near future. What are some of your favorite memories?