Zdeno Chara, the tallest player in NHL history, the oldest player in the league and a 2011 Stanley Cup champion, has officially announced that he will retire.
Chara signed a one-day contract with the Boston Bruins on Tuesday, allowing him to retire from the club where he has spent most of his career.
He was the Bruins captain from 2006 to 2020, when he signed in free agency with the Washington Capitals.
Chara won the Norris Trophy as the league’s best defender in 2009 and made five of his six All-Star appearances with the spokes B.
During his time in Boston, Chara went to the Stanley Cup playoffs 10 times. He led the team to three Stanley Cup Finals, winning the 2011 cup in seven games over the Vancouver Canucks.
After 25 seasons in the National Hockey League, Zdeno Chara has announced his retirement
Chara spent most of his time in Boston and won the Stanley Cup as captain of the Bruins in 2011
Chara signed a one-day contract with the Bruins and retired from the team he spent 14 seasons with
“After 25 seasons of professional hockey 1,680 NHL regular season games, 200 Stanley Cup Playoff games and hundreds of international games, I am proud to announce my decision to retire from the National Hockey League,” Chara posted on Instagram.
“As a result, I am honored to return to TD Garden today to sign a one-day contract with the Boston Bruins and officially conclude my career with the team that has meant so much to me and my family.
“There are so many people who have contributed to my success, including all of you, and I look forward to giving a proper thank you to everyone this afternoon. Thank you, Great Sea.’
In his farewell address, Chara thanked coaches, past scouts, the four teams he played for, the Boston media, his family and many others.
“When I started playing hockey, I never thought I’d be part of the NHL or part of the Boston Bruins organization and win the Stanley Cup or [the] Norris Trophy or the Mark Messier Award. Or even have the privilege of seeing my name next to many NHL records.
“I know I can leave the game with gratitude, honor and pride… I’m not walking away from the game completely, but now it’s time for me to walk past my family. My family and I are proud to call Boston home. It is the team and the city that we hold close to our hearts.’
A number of Bruins leaders commented on Chara’s retirement.
“He was a great mentor, a great person, a great friend. I am grateful for his friendship and everything he has done for the Boston Bruins organization,” former teammate and current captain Patrice Bergeron told media.
‘I’d find it hard to believe he won’t be’ [in the Hockey Hall of Fame]said team president and Hockey Hall of Famer Cam Neely.
Speaking about any future involvement with the team, Neely said: “Zdeno in any capacity would be a huge boost to the franchise.”
Neely also said Chara is the last person to wear the number 33 for the Bruins, promising that his name would soon be in the hallowed rafters of TD Garden.
Chara, seen here in 2007, signed in free agency with the Bruins in the 2006 season. He was awarded the ‘C’ and was named team captain immediately after signing.
All his former teams congratulated him on social media. The Ottawa Senators posted a thank you note, saying, “Congratulations on a great career and thank you for your time with the #Sens!”
Washington, the team he spent the least time with, wrote: “It was a joy and an honor to have you in the district and a part of your incredible career. Good luck with your retirement, Great Sea!’
The Islanders—the team he last took to the ice with and the one who drafted him—said, “Thank you for all you’ve done in blue and orange. There will only be one ‘Great Sea’. ‘
Chara was known more for his ability to keep the puck out of the net than for sticking it in. He still scored 237 goals and provided 523 assists for 750 points in 1,880 games in the regular season and in the playoffs.
His 1,680 regular season appearances is a record for a defender. He is a candidate for the Hockey Hall of Fame not only for his consistency, but also for his standing in the game from Slovakia to North America.
Chara also holds records for the most Game 7 playoff appearances in NHL history, as well as records for being the tallest person in league history and having the hardest shot in league history.
Chara was the second European captain to win the Cup, after Swede Nicklas Lidstrom with Detroit.
Chara signed his last playing contract with the New York Islanders, the team that drafted him
Chara was drafted by the Islanders in the third round in 1996 and played his first four seasons on Long Island before being traded to the Senators.
Boston signing him in 2006 remains one of the most impactful free agency signings in the 17 years of the NHL salary cap era. He filled a captaincy vacancy that arose after the Bruins traded Joe Thornton for the San Jose Sharks in the 2004-05 season.
Chara first reached the Stanley Cup final with the team in 2011, after their first-round series with the Montreal Canadiens and the Eastern Conference final against the Tampa Bay Lightning both went to seven games.
The cup final against the Canucks proved to be an even more arduous task, as Vancouver had won the President’s Trophy that year as the league’s best regular season team. A Game 7 win by the Bruins saw Chara lift the cup for the first and only time. That win gave Boston its first Stanley Cup since 1972, its first in 39 years.
After four hard-fought runs, Chara helped Boston to its first Stanley Cup in 39 years
In 2013, the Bruins again reached the final against the Chicago Blackhawks. Chara scored one goal and three assists during that streak, with Boston falling to the Blackhawks in six games.
The 2019 Stanley Cup final was the last time the Bruins played for arguably the hardest trophy to win in North American sport. They played the St. Louis Blues in a rematch of the 1970 Stanley Cup final – one where Boston was victorious and won their third cup.
Chara suffered a broken jaw in Game Four of the cup final, but within 72 hours he had wires in his mouth and a full face shield on his helmet, a heroic example of leadership in the sport.
“I went to see him after he broke his jaw in the playoffs in ’19 in the hospital, and he tells me he’s playing Game 5… to me that showed everything about Zdeno – not just the toughness, but the dedication,” Neelie recalls.
Despite breaking his jaw in the 2019 Stanley Cup final, Chara played for the rest of the series
The Bruins lost that series on home ice to the Blues in Game 7. In the post-expansion era, Boston has never won the Stanley Cup when they have home field advantage.
After the 2019-20 COVID shortened season, Bruins did not promise GM Don Sweeney a full-time role for Chara and left for the Washington Capitals in free agency. Coincidentally, the Capitals played the Bruins in the first round of the playoffs – with Boston winning in five games.
He joined his original team – the Islanders – for the 2021-22 season, scoring in his final game on April 29, 2022, against the Lightning.
He played his last game with the Islanders in 2022 and scored his last goal of his career