Bruins Sign Zdeno Chara

While it was not a surprise to receive notice that a press conference was to be held at TD Garden on Tuesday, regarding the retirement of former Bruins captain Zdeno Chara, it still came with bittersweet memories. Chara certainly filled the mold of a ‘true Bruin,’ he had the talent, the size and the intestinal fortitude – all the requirements. But, despite his 14-year reign as captain with Boston, it was still sad to see this hulk of a man call it a day. His trip to the Garden was due to a fine gesture by Bruins management, as they allowed Chara to sign a one-day contract with the team to officially retire from the National Hockey League, as a member of the Boston Bruins.

Among his many accolades with Boston, the now 45-year-old Chara led the Bruins to a postseason berth in 11 of his 14 seasons with the team, including a Stanley Cup Championship in 2010-11. He ranks sixth in franchise history in games played (1,023), and third in points by a defenseman (481) behind Hall of Famers Ray Bourque (1,506) and Bobby Orr (888). In addition, over his 24-year NHL career, Chara received several individual accolades. He was awarded the Norris Trophy as the NHL’s best defenseman in 2008-09, after posting a career-high 19 goals and 31 assists in 80 games with Boston. He was the recipient of the Mark Messier Leadership Award in 2010-11 for his exemplary leadership both on and off the ice. He was named to the NHL First All-Star 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). He was also the recipient of the Golden Puck as Slovakia’s Player of the Year six times (2008-09, 2010-11, 2011-12, 2012-13, 2017-18, 2018-19). He twice received the silver medal with Slovakia in the IIHF World Hockey Championships (2000, 2012), and also received the silver medal with Team Europe in the 2016 World Cup of Hockey.

In 2011, Chara became the first Bruins captain to bring a Stanley Cup home to Boston since 1972. He would make two more trips to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2013 and 2019 and finished his career with totals of 18 goals and 52 assists for 70 points in 200 playoff games. Chara ranks first in the NHL with 14 career Game 7 appearances. In his 14 seasons as a Bruin, 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). Chara finished his career in Boston with 148 goals and 333 assists for 481 points.

When asked about his decision to retire as a Bruin, Chara explained, “It wasn’t difficult. I knew before this day. I knew quite earlier than today, but I waited a little and wanted to really soak everything in. We had some conversations with Cam (Neely) and Don (Sweeney), and we were just waiting for the right timing. It’s a privilege, it’s such a huge honor, like said, to be part of this organization for so long and to retire as a Boston Bruin, it’s a huge amount of honor.”  He further explained that he will take some time to enjoy retirement before making any further plans for hockey in the future, “It’d be really unfair to myself, my family, or to whatever I decide to do hockey-wise. To commit to something without knowing I can be committed one hundred percent to that specific job or task. Just want to enjoy being with my family, my kids especially. Just want to be taking days as they come. I think if there are opportunities or there’s something that will present in the future, there’s always going to be a chance to step in. But as of right now, I’m just kind of going to take some time and see how it goes.”

Chara was a constant in building a culture in Boston, quick to point out that it would have been impossible to do without Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, both in attendance, plus the adjustments that added Neely and Sweeney to key roles in management. Asked about who brought out the best in him, Chara was quick to answer, “They’re sitting right here: Patrice, Marchy. We always compete against each other in the practices, but we knew that that would make the best of us; it would just bring the best of us. It would just prepare us for the games. I always kept telling them, if the practice is harder than the game, then that’s how it should be so then the games became easier.”

Reflecting back to Boston’s Stanley Cup win in 2011, “We won it together. It’s not me because I was the captain. We did it together. We had such a committed group. We all bought in to what we did prior years in the practices. Every day, we made commitments to each other and to the team and the organization. To finally accomplish it in winning the Stanley Cup, it was such a relief and such a happy moment for everybody, because we did it together. We did it as a group. And the celebrations are just something we will never forget. If you ask any of us, that’s the best memories we have. I think it’s pretty special, this city, the fan base we have, the success the teams have around here. It’s pretty special. I’m very happy, like I said. This is our home. My kids were born here, and we call it home, and we love this city and the fans.” Looking ahead for Chara, first, the Bruins’ raising his number 33 to the rafters, and following the three-year mandatory wait, induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Bruins 2022 Training Camp began yesterday (Wednesday) at Warrior Ice Arena. Pre-season game schedule includes, Saturday, September 24 at 7pm v. Philadelphia Flyers; Tuesday, September 27 at 7pm v. New York Rangers – TDG; Saturday, October 1 at 1pm v. Philadelphia Flyers – TDG; Monday, October 3 at 7pm v. New Jersey Devils; Wednesday, October 5 at 7pm v. New York Rangers at 7pm; and Saturday, October 7 v. New Jersey Devils at 7pm – TDG.

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