Zdeno Chara finally called it a career and he did in the way that everybody would have hoped or imagined he would, finalizing his brilliant, soon-to-be Hall of Fame career by signing a one-day contract with the Boston Bruins and retiring as a member of the Black and Gold.
The 45-year-old defenseman announced his retirement on Instagram and did so with the Boston Bruins “to officially finish my career with the team that has meant so much to me and my family.”
The 45-year-old played last season for the New York Islanders and finished with two goals and 14 points in 72 games but will always be remembered for his 14-year-run with the Boston Bruins as captain, leading the B’s to a 2011 Stanley Cup championship and three times helping lead them to Stanley Cup Final berths. Chara finished with 148 goals and 481 points in 1,023 games played for the Boston Bruins and was a plus-38 in 150 Stanley Cup playoff games played for the Boston Bruins over the course of his time in Boston.
The 6-foot-9 defenseman was known for his size, strength, endurance and tremendous defensive abilities along with a booming slapshot that still holds the record at NHL All-Star weekend competition at 108.8 mph. He was also as well-known for his leadership and his tremendous work ethic, both of which played a massive role in the Boston Bruins remaining a competitive NHL playoff team for the last 15 years.
Here’s what Boston Bruins GM Don Sweeney had to say about Chara a month ago when it was still unclear whether he’d keep playing, or retire as the all-time NHL games played leader (1,680 games) at the defenseman position after passing Chris Chelios last season.
“As far as his legacy with the Boston Bruins, he goes down as one of the best and greatest,” said Sweeney. “You know, really ultimately changed the culture of where the group was when he came on board and won a Stanley Cup and was a champion in this city, both on and off the ice and an iconic player, obviously, to have the most games played ever as a defenseman in the National Hockey League. That that one might not be broken. As a person, just a really special individual on and off the ice.”
Perhaps this plan was discussed a bit when Chara was spotted at Warrior Ice Arena visiting his former Boston Bruins teammates last week, as his agent made it clear it wasn’t about returning to play in Boston.
There will be more to come as Chara will head to TD Garden on Tuesday afternoon to officially sign the one-day contract prior to his NHL retirement and talk about the decision along with what’s next for Big Zee.