Zdeno Chara stands alone.
The New York Islanders blueliner set a file for many video games performed by an NHL defenseman when he skated within the 1,652nd sport of his profession Thursday, a 4-3 Islanders shootout loss to the San Jose Sharks. Chara registered one shot on aim over 16:26 time on ice within the contest.
Corridor of Fame defender Chris Chelios had held the earlier file since 2010, when he retired after 26 seasons within the NHL. Chara, who turns 45 subsequent month, can be tied now for having performed the seventh-most video games ever at any place within the league. Halfway by means of his twenty fourth professional marketing campaign, Chara is placing in 18:31 common time on ice this season and has eight assists in 44 video games.
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Chelios couldn’t attend the sport in San Jose due to work commitments, however he pledged to be on the rink when Chara is honored again residence at UBS Area. Out of deference to Chelios and what he achieved, Chara didn’t converse publicly on the approaching milestone till it formally handed. However Chelios was the primary particular person Chara talked about after his record-breaking night time.
“It’s such an honor and privilege to be in the identical group as many nice defenseman, however clearly passing Chris, he’s set such a excessive customary for many people and lots of generations,” Chara stated. “It’s been very inspiring and an enormous motivation, and I wish to thank him for that, as a result of he was an amazing participant, an incredible chief and he’s such a legend.”
Chara may need been in an opponent’s enviornment on his historic night time, however he nonetheless obtained a convincing standing ovation from the gang at SAP Heart through the sport’s first interval. The Sharks additionally ready a video message that includes Patrick Marleau, the NHL’s chief in video games performed, sharing his congratulations.
And in true Chara style, he additionally engaged in a second-period scrap Thursday with San Jose ahead Jeffrey Viel. It was the 76th struggle of Chara’s profession, and when the brief bout ended, Chara made positive to present Viel a hug and affectionate faucet to the helmet earlier than they parted for the penalty field.
The gathered hockey followers liked it, as did Chara. The assist Chara felt through the sport and main as much as it wasn’t misplaced on him both, and there was an extended listing of individuals to thank for serving to him attain a lofty profession pinnacle.
“I’m very grateful, and I’ve been very fortunate to have had many nice teammates, coaches, trainers, mates,” he stated. “However none of that’s extra essential than the assist of my spouse and my kids. I wouldn’t be sitting right here if it weren’t for them permitting me to nonetheless play the sport and do what I do and assist my teammates each night time.”
Checking in at 6-foot-9 and 250 kilos, Chara has been a power patrolling NHL blue traces since day one. A local of Trencin, Slovakia, he was drafted within the third spherical, 56th general, by the Islanders through the 1996 entry draft and made his NHL debut on Nov. 19, 1997. Over the course of 24 years, Chara has performed for New York, Ottawa, Boston and Washington, amassing 207 objectives and 674 factors. He sits thirty second general in that span with a median time on ice of 23:34.
Probably the most celebrated part of Chara’s profession, although, was the time he spent in Boston.
In July 2006, after years with the Islanders and Senators, Chara turned an unrestricted free agent and signed with the Bruins, who instantly named him the crew’s captain. He would maintain that mantle by means of the subsequent 14 seasons in Boston, by means of years full of particular person and collective success.
Chara received the Norris Trophy in 2009 because the NHL’s finest defenseman, after posting a career-high 19 objectives within the 2008-09 common season. It stands as his solely Norris win to this point, amid six nominations for the award.
In 2011, Chara and the Bruins defeated Vancouver to win the primary and solely Stanley Cup of his profession. Chara turned the primary Slovak participant to captain an NHL membership to a Cup victory and joined Nicklas Lidstrom as simply the second European skater to perform that feat.
Chara would return to the Cup Ultimate in 2013 and 2019, with Boston falling to Los Angeles and St. Louis, respectively. By July 2019, Chara was the oldest energetic participant within the NHL, and in November of that yr he turned the twenty first skater in historical past to seem in 1,500 video games.
In a video posted to the Bruins’ Twitter account Thursday night time, captain Patrice Bergeron shared his personal message about Chara’s accomplishment.
“I’m so happy with you,” Bergeron stated. “I’m not stunned that you simply’re nonetheless doing this at such a excessive degree. Your dedication, your perseverance, your competitiveness is unmatched, and I’m so happy with you once more. Congratulations. I hope you had an excellent one and also you take pleasure in this accomplishment as a result of it’s very particular.”
Brad Marchand was additionally featured within the video, telling Chara, “I discovered a lot from you alongside the best way. … So joyful for every thing you’ve been in a position to accomplish. Watching you as a teammate, I’ve a complete new understanding and appreciation for what you’ve achieved. There’s nobody else that deserves it extra, to have your title on the prime of that listing.”
When his contract in Boston expired after the 2019-20 season, Chara opted to affix Washington on a one-year deal in December 2020. His profession got here full circle when Chara rejoined the Islanders on one other one-year pact in September 2021.
Whether or not this yr would be the finish of the street for Chara stays to be seen, but it surely’s unlikely to supply one other postseason run. New York entered Thursday’s sport with a 19-20-7 file and sitting seven factors again of a wild-card spot. Along with his 1,652 regular-season appearances, Chara has skated in 200 playoff video games.
“I’m very fortunate and grateful to nonetheless be taking part in the sport,” Chara stated. “I’ve had many superb folks round me for [the last] 25 years.”
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