It was a festive night for all who attended The Sports Museum’s 18th Annual celebration of “The Tradition.” The TD Garden floor was covered dasher to dasher with what Executive Director of The Sports Museum, Rusty Sullivan described as “the largest turnout and biggest fundraiser to date. Sullivan has been Executive Director for 14 of the 18 years that this annual event has been presented. It was Sullivan who made the opening remarks, which signaled the start of the presentations to the 2019 – The Tradition honorees in their sport – Zdeno Chara (hockey), Manny Ramirez (baseball), Matt Light (football), Michelle Kwan (figure skating), and Ben Crenshaw (golf).
The initial award was presented to Chara by former Bruins captain and Hockey Hall of Famer Johnny Bucyk. Chara, still playing solid hockey at the age of 42, explained some details about how he has been able to play at the superior defenseman level for so long. When asked by Tradition co-host Jackie MacMullan about his legendary work ethic, Chara went on to describe his ‘blue folder,’ which contains his extensive workouts. “I’ve been very lucky that we have a family history of my dad being a Greco-Roman wrestler, and my mom did some amateur sports events. My dad was obviously a big influence, he taught me a lot about training, about keeping track of where I’m at, where I want to be, and how to get to certain goals. He told me the best way to do it is to keep track of your workouts, making sure that you know what you are doing, and finding your patterns that work for you. It became a habit, and at the same time I was writing these workouts and trying to do better next time, or next week, or so on. It was also motivation, but over the course of 25-plus years, it’s a big stack of papers.”
In an interview prior to the presentations, Chara stated, “It’s a very huge honor, I am very honored, humble and grateful that I could be here with such a great group of athletes.” He went on to elaborate, “I’m very thankful to join this group, it’s always nice to interact with them and talk to them about their season, as we spend so much time with our season.” The other 2019 honorees on the roster were, Manny Ramirez – Won two World Series in seven-plus seasons with the Red Sox. He finished his major league career with 555 home runs, including 274 with the Red Sox (presented by Manny Delcarmen); Matt Light – Played 11 seasons with the Patriots, winning three Super Bowls and playing in two more, while protecting Tom Brady’s blind side at left tackle (presenter Sammy Morris); Paul Silas – Played 16 seasons in the NBA, including four with the Celtics, with whom he won two o his three NBA titles (presented by former Globe sports columnist Bob Ryan), Michelle Kwan – Retired figure skater is a two-time Olympic medalist (silver in 1998, bronze in 2002), a five-time world champion and nine-time US champion (presenter Brian Boitano); and Ben Crenshaw – Who won 19 events on the PGA Tour, captained the 1999 US Ryder Cup team that regained the Cup at The Country Club in Brookline (presenter Brad Faxon).
Upon his eventual retirement, Chara should be among those players considered for Hockey Hall of Fame selections. To date, his 22nd season in the NHL, 14 of them with the Bruins, he has provided this town with success that has included three trips to the Stanley Cup Final, including a Cup win in 2011, along with the excitement his solid play brings to Boston’s blue line.