Player of the Week honors goes to Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara for playing in his 1000th career game this past weekend. Chara comes from Trencin, Czechoslovakia and is a 6’9, 255lb, lefty defenseman. He has played on six hockey teams in his career, including three for the NHL. The 35-year old has been a leading member of the Bruins since 2006.
He was drafted by the New York Islanders in 1999 where he made his debut and earned his reputation as a tough, intimidating opponent. In 2001, he was traded in a huge deal to the Ottawa Senators that also included Bill Muckalt and Jason Spezza for Alexei Yashin. He played there until 2006 when he signed with Boston Bruins as a free agent.
As a member of the Islanders, Chara never played on a playoff caliber team. He was used entirely for his defense, but he became known for a hard slapshot and rough play on the ice. He was traded to the Senators in the hopes that he would reach his full potential.
In Ottawa, he grew as a player and had a career year with 10 goals and 23 points. With growing results, the Senators made use of Chara’s offensive skills in addition to his strong defense. During the 2002-03 season, Chara was named to his first All-Star appearance and posted career highs in assists with 30 and 39 points. During All-Star festivities he came in second for the hardest shot in the skills competition. During the 2004-05 NHL Lockout, Chara played in Sweden where he continued to dominate.
For the 2005-06 season, Chara was a free agent who Ottawa chose not to sign. He signed with the Bruins for a five-year $37.5 million contract and was named team captain following Joe Thornton’s trade to the San Jose Sharks. He started in his third All-Star game in 2007 and won hardest shot honors during the festivities for the second time. Though he injured his shoulder with a torn labrum in 2008, he missed only five games, then returned to play out the rest of the regular season and playoffs. After the Bruins lost to the Montreal Canadiens, Chara had his shoulder surgically repaired.
In 2009, he again made the All-Star game and this time, decided to go for hardest shot for charity. He helped raise $24,000 and donated it to Right to Play, a charity for which he is the Athletic Ambassador, after a third win in a row. That year, he scored a career high 19 goals and won the Norris Trophy for NHL’s best defenseman of the year. He had another strong season in 2009-10 and again in 2010-11.
On January 17, 2011, Chara scored his first hat trick against the Carolina Hurricanes. During the 2011 season, Chara became known for a matter beyond his hockey skills. Always known for his rough play, his hit against Montreal Canadien’s forward Max Pacioretty caused Pacioretty to collide with the stanchion at the end of the bench and he was taken away in a stretcher. In return, Chara received a five-minute penalty and a game misconduct, but no other punishment was given.
He earned the biggest accomplishment and highest honors at the end of that season when the Bruins were named 2011’s Stanley Cup Champions for the first time since 1972 over the Vancouver Canucks in a seven game series. This was Chara’s first and only Stanley Cup win so far. He also received the 2011 NHL Plus-Minus Award with +33 rating and the 2011 Mark Messier Leadership Award.
At 2012’s All-Star festivities, Chara once again came away with hardest slapshot honors, this time with a 108.8 mph, which is a new record. On March 24, 2012, Chara played in his 1,000 game of his career and the Bruins came away with a 4-2 win over the Los Angeles Kings. So far this season, Chara has 12 goals, 33 assists, and 44 points. His +/- ratio is third in the league with +27 and he has played in 77 games. With seven games left on the regular season, Chara figures to continue being a huge factor for the Bruins. He help his team clinch a playoff spot and make a run at another Stanley Cup Championship.