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Farewell to the Captain

14 years, 1 Stanley Cup, multiple All-Star nods, and a damn good ride! That’s how I would sum up Zdeno Chara’s career here in Boston. Although one other word does come to mind. Historic. Yes, “Big Zee” was more than just a 6’9, 250lb defenseman, he was family.

Remembering Good Times

Chara dressed as a pink bunny visiting kids in the hospital.

People knew who Zdeno Chara was in the NHL just by height alone. When the New York Islanders drafted him 56th overall in the 1996 draft, there was so much untapped potential within the Slovakian and it would soon come to light. Chara would play 4 years under the Islanders banner showing toughness with his big frame and learning the ropes of the NHL.

It would be under the Ottawa Senators that Chara would start to blossom. He got tougher, comfortable, and in their ways, started to score goals! Upon his arrival via trade from the Islanders, Chara would put up 10 goals and 23 points in 2001 for Ottawa. However this was just the icing on the cake. Chara would start showing his true colors as a two-way defender and scoring more goals, and developing the “fastest” shot. While the time in Ottawa was good, it was short lived. With the 2006 ending and the lockout now over, Ottawa and Chara could not come to terms on a new deal. Chara would now head to free agency for the first time in his career.

Welcome to BOSTON!

With 2005 in the books, and Boston sending Joe Thornton over to San Jose, Bruins fans were hoping 2006 had more to offer. When free agency kicked off on July 1st, the Bruins had Chara signed to a 5 year $37.5 million contract. They also gave him something that went missing when Thornton left. Captain.

BOSTON, MA – FEBRUARY 8: Bruins Zdeno Chara acknowledges the fans during his 1,500 game recognition ceremony at TD Garden February 8, 2020 in Boston, Massachusetts.

Big Zee would spend his next 14 years under the banner of the Bruins.  Chara would grow more into the position as a defender, and more so as captain. Aside from players looking up at him, they looked up TO him. He was a leader, a force on the ice, and in 2010-2011 became a Stanley Cup champion. While this is what a player strives for, Chara himself didn’t do so bad with personal hardware.

Chara’s accomplishments are: 6 time NHL All-Star, winner of John P Bucyk award in 2008, and 2019, James Norris Memorial Trophy in 2009, and the Messier Leadership award in 2011. Not to leave out winning the hardest shot competition in 2007, 08, 09, 11, and 12. Chara set a record in 2012 with a 108.8mph slapshot besting his own record of 105.9 from 2011. in addition, Above all, Chara has shown what it means to be a Bruin.

Toph’s Final Word

Firstly, to say that a man has had a historic career is an amazing accomplishment. Chara as delivered more times over within his 24+year career. Not just as a member of the Boston Bruins, but within the NHL. His leadership and presence is well known within the locker room. Not just the one he’s playing for either. Big Zee is more than just a player, He’s an amazing human being, and personifies what it means to be great.

Chara riding a ride at Canobe Lake Park in Salem NH. Still my favorite photo of Big Zee

However I’m not just talking about on the ice. Nah, I’m talking about his other activities. Whether it is delivering turkeys on Thanksgiving or Christmas, or partnering with local shop Mike’s Pastry here in Boston and doing food donations, Big Zee earned his name. Not just for being a big person, but for having a big heart.

Chara delivering pies from Mike’s Pastry in Boston to local food drives during the holidays

Yes, his tenure with the Bruins is over as he’s now signed with the Washington Capitals. It was a day that was going to come. Players know that the NHL and hockey is a business and I do believe Boston did try to do what’s best for the team, and Chara himself. However the signs were there that this day would come. I’m just thankful I was along for the 14 year ride. And this isn’t good bye. This is just a “see ya later” moment. I mean, we still have to retire # 33 don’t we? Would be a shame not to!

And to Zdeno Chara himself. Thanks for the memories and great moments, and showing us what it means to be a Bruin! Once a Bruin, ALWAYS a Bruin!

Read his Instagram goodbye post here:

 

Toph

@angry_turnip80

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