Oh captain, my captain! Zdeno Chara is Superman in black and gold

VANCOUVER, BC - JUNE 15: Zdeno Chara
VANCOUVER, BC - JUNE 15: Zdeno Chara /

Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara is an absolute freak of nature, but in a good way.  His combination of size, strength, skill, and hockey sense is unprecedented.  So here is an ode to a player who will go down as one of the greatest players to wear the Spoked-B.

Height: six feet, nine inches tall.  Weight: 250 pounds.  Approximate wingspan: seven feet.  The physical features I’ve just laid out apply more or less to two notable professional athletes.  One is NBA superstar, and former league MVP Kevin Durant.  The other, is none other than Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara.

It is fair to say that the NHL has never seen a player like Zdeno Chara.  He is officially the tallest player to ever play in the league.  He is the epitome of a shut-down defenseman, given the fact that when you put a stick in his hands his reach becomes close to thirteen feet.  He can do 37 pull-ups, which at his height and weight is an ultimate feat of strength, one that even Frank Costanza would be proud of.  Long story short:  he is a physical phenomenon.

But one of the most impressive things that Chara brings to the table is that he is so much more than just a typical defensive-defenseman.  He has the numbers to prove that he is arguably one of the most well-rounded defensemen in the history of the game.  In my mind, there is no doubt that he should be a first-ballot Hall-of-Fame inductee when he becomes eligible.  If you don’t believe me, let me prove it to you.

Chara’s Career By the Numbers

  • 19 seasons played (soon to be 20) in the NHL playing for three teams (New York Islanders, Ottawa Senators, Boston Bruins)
  • 188 goals, 416 assists, 604 points in 1350 regular season games
  • 15 goal, 44 assists, 59 points in 147 playoff games
  • Captain for the Boston Bruins since he joined the team in 2006-2007
  • James Norris Trophy winner in 2008-2009
  • Mark Messier NHL Leadership Award winner in 2010-2011
  • Stanley Cup Champion in 2010-2011
  • 15 seasons with a positive plus/minus
  • 10 seasons with double digit goals
  • 9 season with 40+ points, career high of 52 in 2011-2012
  • 6 time NHL All-Star selection
  • NHL All-Star Skills Competition record 108.8 MPH slapshot in 2012
(Photo by Gail Oskin/Getty Images)
(Photo by Gail Oskin/Getty Images) /

Playing for an original-six franchise that’s been around for over 90 years, Chara has cemented his legacy as one of the top 3 defenseman in Bruins history.  There is no debating that the two players above him, Ray Bourque and Bobby Orr, are legends of the game.  They will likely never be toppled off their respective places on the top of the list.  But it’s important to note that those guys played in different eras in the NHL.

They played in a time where defensemen putting up 90+ points was a casual thing, so comparing numbers between Chara and Orr/Bourque is like comparing apples and oranges.  But in terms of what they each brought to the franchise during the time in which they played, Chara belongs in the same ranks as Bourque and Orr, which is an accomplishment of great magnitude.

Move over Father Time

BOSTON, MA – FEBRUARY 11: Zdeno Chara
BOSTON, MA – FEBRUARY 11: Zdeno Chara /

Despite there being little news about it, Tom Brady is not the only New England athlete that is heading into the season at 40 years old.  Chara will likewise begin the season at the ripe age of 40, and will turn 41 during this upcoming season.  The fact that a guy who is 6’9″, 250 pounds can continue to play the game of hockey at a such high level is astonishing.  To this day he remains as one of the most physical, intimidating presence on the ice.

Related Story: Boston Bruins: Players the team can’t afford to lose in 2017-18 season

What also makes it impressive that he continues to dominate at his age is that hockey is arguably one of the most physically demanding of the four major sports.  Chara has come out recently and indicated has no intent to quit playing the game he loves.  In fact, he uses guys like Brady and NHL legend Jaromir Jagr as motivation to keep lacing them up.  Chara told SI.com:

"“I watch Jagr, and I watch Brady, and I could see myself playing at 46.  I really want to.”"

It is undeniable that sometimes athletes hang on too long, and eventually their game deteriorates to the point where they hurt the team more than they help.  As a sports fan, it sometimes becomes hard to watch when that happens.  Although you know it won’t tarnish their overall legacy, their inability to know when their time is up becomes the only thing some people remember about them.

Teammate weighs in

Fellow Boston Bruins defenseman, and potential future blue-line cornerstone Charlie McAvoy recently weighed in on his thoughts on his captain:

"“He’s just unbelievable. Unbelievable person, everyone on the team thinks the world of him. He’s our leader, and as a player, he’s just been so successful. He’s gonna be a Hall of Famer,” McAvoy continued. “And I think playing next to a guy like that, I think that I probably credit him for the success I had because he made it so easy.”"

McAvoy went on to cite communication as another key attribute that sets Chara apart from other players.

What does the future hold?

The 2017-2018 season is Chara’s last year under contract, at a very team friendly $4 million.  The fan-favorite, Patrice Bergeron, is already been anointed by most as Chara’s successor when it comes to the Bruins’ captaincy.  So, what does that mean for Chara past this season?

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Personally, I would take great offense to see Chara put on any other jersey at this point in his career.  I loved that Ray Bourque was able to win a Stanley Cup, but it came with great pain to see it was while he was wearing a Colorado Avalanche jersey.  For everything that Chara has done with his organization, he should retire as a Boston Bruin.  And as long as he is providing quality play on the ice, he should be able to go out on his own terms.

His offensive numbers have slowly declined the last few seasons.  But that is natural given the miles he has on his legs at this point in his career.  Plus, in 2017-2018, he only averaged 0:27 ATOI on the power play, which significantly diminishes his chances to rack up points like he used to.  But despite the significant decrease in power play minutes he still maintained a team-high ATOI of 23:30 last season, racking up 10 goals, 19 assists, and a plus/minus of +18.

Don’t screw this up, Boston!

Chara still has what it takes to play the game at a high level, and I sincerely hope the Bruins organization recognizes that.  If they want to sign him to one year deals until he’s done playing rather than a longer-term deal, then that’s what they should do.

Next: Underappreciated Tuukka Rask will continue to prove he is a top tier goalie

As long as he can lace ’em up, Chara should do so, and he should be wearing the No. 33 in Black and Gold.