If it weren’t for the ageless Tom Brady, Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara would be the marvel of the New England sports scene. At age 41 and in the final year of his contract he still continues to play at a high level. Now, he will return for at least one more season—his 21st in the NHL.
According to the Bruins, Chara will captain the Black and Gold for one more season as they have agreed on a one-year $5 Million extension with $1.75 million in incentives. The six-foot-nine, 250-pound defenseman from Czechleslovakia was originally a third-round pick of the New York Islanders in the 1996 NHL Entry Draft.
— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) March 28, 2018
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Chara signed with the Bruins prior to the start of the 2006 season. He was named captain upon his signing and has held that position ever since, making him the longest-tenured captain in the NHL. His arrival in Boston helped transform the team following the 2004 lockout in which they made a number of ill-advised signings. (Alexei Zhamnov anyone?). In 2009, Chara won the Norris Trophy for best defenseman. In addition, he is a five-time All-Star during his time wearing the spoked ‘B’. Most importantly, he helped lead the Bruins to their first Stanley Cup in 39 years when they defeated the Vancouver Canucks in 2011.
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During his time with the Bruins, Chara has averaged 25 minutes of ice time a game. Even this season at age 41 he still logs 23 minutes a game over 68 contests. On top of that, he is regularly one of the top plus/minus players in the league and has been one of the best penalty killers in that time.
Throughout his tenure in Boston, he has been remarkedly durable. Despite logging a ton of hard minutes each and every game. Given that he is set to return from injury on Thursday, he should reach the 75 games played mark for the 10th time in his 12 seasons in Boston. One of those seasons, however, was the lockout-shortened 2013 season in which he played in all 48 regular season games. They returned to the Stanley Cup Finals that year only to be ousted by the Chicago Blackhawks in heartbreaking fashion.
The Bruins could very well find themselves back in the Finals in just a couple months. Sitting just one point behind the Lightning for the top spot in the East, Chara’s presence is of the utmost importance at this stage. The team has surprised many this season and with their bevy of young talent, they look to be Cup contenders for the foreseeable future. And now, they know the face of the franchise for over a decade will be there to lead them this season and next.
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